Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
You know what? I’m proud of my kids.
They’re creative and funny, they’re interesting and curious, and they pursue all kinds of ideas I would never have thought to investigate. I bet you feel the same way about your kids. I bet you even tell them that.
Maybe you don’t use those particular words, but I bet your face lights up when they show you their latest creations. I bet you ask thoughtful questions when they tell you what they’re reading or writing or puzzling over.
I bet you celebrate their projects and their accomplishments, because they’re pretty great. I bet you let them know that you’re proud of them in a zillion little ways.
Do you remember how that felt, when you were a kid?
Do you remember the warm feeling in your chest, the smile you might have tried to hide, the way you stood a little taller when someone noticed your hard work or your gifts or your skills?
Now that we’re all grown up, we don’t get that as often. No one ever tapes our watercolor paintings to the fridge!
And I wonder, do we remember to be proud of ourselves?
I’m not talking about the kind of pride that thinks of self as better than others. I’m not talking about arrogance or superiority. I’m talking about the good feeling that comes from knowing that you and your work both matter.
“I’m proud of you” means that I see the effort you put into something, and it was important. It means I acknowledge your skill and your struggle and your perseverance. It means I see you. It means you are appreciated.
It helps to remind each other sometimes, because we forget. We forget to say those things to ourselves. Let’s practice saying them to each other.
I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of you for doing the daily work: the meals, the dishes, the laundry. Sweeping the floors. Checking the math. Driving the route. Doing the work.
Maybe we don’t even think of these things as accomplishments, but they are the seams that hold the fabric of our days in place. Without them, our days fall apart. You keep them together, and I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of you for showing up for your kids every day, for paying attention and noticing what they need. They don’t even always know themselves yet, because they’re still fairly new to this planet and it takes awhile to get your feet under you around here.
But you think about your kids, you offer them good choices, you help them navigate the world in big ways and small ones. I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of you for practicing listening to yourself, too. Sometimes the needs of little people are loud and long and seem to take up all the space in the room, but you haven’t given up.
You’re looking for ways to let your needs live alongside theirs. That is complicated work, and it’s something to be proud of.
I’m proud of you for all the times you choose to be kind. Not just “nice,” not just polite, not just giving in to make someone else happy, but kind—the kindness that wants what is best for another person.
The kindness that is rooted in a deep understanding of your own worth and the worth of others. Kindness makes our world better, and I’m proud of you for choosing it.
I’m proud of you for listening. I’m proud of every time you sit down at the breakfast table to hear the story of someone’s rambling-on, probably-invented-as-they-speak dream. I’m proud of every time you hear a teenager’s angst and notice the longing for connection behind it.
I’m proud of every time you hear a need and find a way to offer support or love or a warm meal. I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of you for dreaming dreams. Some seasons are so full of caretaking and daily details and minor emergencies that even the idea of dreaming seems crazy. Ridiculous. Out of reach. Some seasons feel long-long-long.
I’m proud of you for looking at that reality and saying: I will dream anyway. I will dream of what is best for right now, I will dream up the best way of spending these days, and maybe I will even dream of tomorrow, too.
I’m proud of you for creating this life you’re living.
I’m proud of you for loving people even when it’s scary.
I’m proud of you for asking for help when you need it. (You can, you know.)
I’m proud of you for seeing who your kids are, not who you want them to be. I’m proud of you for paying attention to their gifts and their passions. I’m proud of you for getting to know their real, true selves, the selves they are and were made to be.
I’m proud of all the ways that you point your kids toward the things that matter most.
I’m proud of the ways that you lead them toward love, toward compassion, toward connection, toward community, toward peace, toward kindness, toward truth and beauty, toward the humility that takes care of others, toward the curiosity that imagines a better way, toward the courage that stands firm.
I’m proud of you.
I hope you remember that you matter, and that your work is important. What are you proud of? What makes you proud of someone else? Tell me in the comments. Let’s celebrate together.