A couple of weeks ago, Emily and I were driving to the pool and she was talking about something that she didn't feel very confident about. I tried to encourage her, but in what is becoming typical 11-year-old fashion, she objected to my encouragement and just told me that she couldn't do it. We went back and forth a few times, but when I realized that my tactics were just not going to work, I took a different approach.
I told her that I was going to paint a sign for her to hang in her room that said, "Believe in Yourself." I told her that I was going to give the original painting to her but sell copies of it. And the money from those copies (and really the majority of my profits) will go towards paying for her college.
Her face lit up in an excited but semi-doubtful sort of way. She was ready to challenge me. She wasn't sure that I would really follow through with this idea, but she was intrigued. She asked if I was really going to paint the picture. I told her yes. I then snuck in a couple of mom-isms to encourage her to try the thing she said she couldn't do. Then I went back to the painting. I told her that when it was finished and hanging in her room that I wanted her to remember that Mommy gets scared too, but I keep going and keep trying. And sometimes I fail, and that's ok but I keep going.
The next weekend, she went off to her other mom's for the weekend, so I set out to make this painting. She came home and I showed the illustration to her. She was stunned. "You really did it?" she said incredulously.
"Yup. And I'm going to make copies and sell them, just like I told you. The money will go into your college fund so that when you grow up you can do whatever it is that your heart leads you to do."
Art prints are in the shop. Oh, and that thing she was worried she couldn't do? She did it. Every now and then this Mom thing works out just right.