Strengths & Weaknesses IV: Modeling Strengths & Weaknesses

Up to this point you’ve thought about your strengths. Your weaknesses. Where they came from; how and why they were evolved or kept hidden. This dive into self has probably not been easy—its required remembering the past and honestly looking at the present. This self discovery work has hopefully prompted surprise, clarity, or maybe both about who you are. That matters—being attuned with ourselves means to be receptive and aware of ourselves. Our wants; our needs; our unique design.

Being attuned with ourselves lends to a higher probability of being attuned to our littles. The skills attunement call for—like active focus and purposeful intent—can be learned for personal growth and then used in your mothering. But an important disclaimer that may be obvious but still not easily practiced: As much as we hope and no matter how hard we try, us mamas can’t project strengths onto our littles, nor can we transfer our mastered coping tools for them to handle their inevitable weaknesses. If only if I could gift my littles an organized, concise life manual written by yours truly outlining wisdom, best practices and instructions on how to navigate their journey. Whatever I can do to minimize the blow of this life, giving them a head-start on some lessons sign me up! Unfortunately that's not how it works—it's both a burden and blessing of motherhood watching littles experience and learn themselves because we know how hard it is and how long it takes. Your littles have a different genetic makeup than you; different capacities. They will have things they’re not good at, embarrassed about, and dislike about themselves. But you do have the opportunity to model what you do with your strengths and weaknesses—your acceptance and embrace inspires your littles to do the same. The beauty of knowing you means you can help your little know who they are.

Learning how to mother takes a lifetime, let alone learning how to be yourself. Our life experience—our existence—is about pruning. Contrary to western messaging, we need not wait to model until we champion whatever it is we’re striving to model. It’s not so much about putting your achieved self discovery on display in hopes of littles emulating, as it is about modeling the grimy, involved, and beautiful process of self discovery. In your imperfect process and in your imperfect modeling, let your littles know you’re a master of none but you’re trying. You’re trying to make sense of yourself so you can coach your littles.

Just like you mamas out there, I'm evolving. To provide an example, my littles experience one of my strengths when their big toddler feelings take over. In those moments of anger, stubbornness or sadness I stay—letting them go through whatever emotion in my arms opposed to exiling them to a room or a corner. My littles find security in my strength of tolerance—they get the message that their emotions aren't too much to handle. They aren't too much to handle. Instead they are safe to express themselves and just be. But other times in this same scenario, my weakness of impatience arises and I quickly bark a punishment so I don't have to deal with whatever it is. I repair thereafter, but it's a weakness and I remain susceptible to it happening again...and again.

I'm clearly impacted by how I utilize my strengths and weaknesses, my mothering is clearly impacted, and my littles are clearly impacted. My littles see both my strengths and weaknesses in action—not managed ideally but they see my processing; my learning of what they are, and how to use them to become a better me and a better mama. There's much goodness in littles truly seeing us like this—giving ourselves the space and grace to evolve teaches our littles how to give themselves space and grace. So, although passing down a manual may be life saving, modeling your strengths and weaknesses is life giving. And that's so much more valuable.