My 16-year-old son was inducted into the National Honor Society at his high school this morning. I was feeling very proud! I wanted to shout his accomplishments from the mountaintops! I wanted to post on social media that my son was smart, service-oriented, leadership-focused, and an all-around great person. (Those are the four qualities of NHS, in my terms.)
But something stopped me. “Pride.” Wasn’t pride a negative emotion? Will my friends be annoyed if I brag on Facebook? If I’m proud, does that mean I’m not humble?
I was conflicted. And I’m a questioner, so I questioned the internet gods: “Is pride bad?” It didn’t take long to discover — and subsequently create my own — answer.
Pride can be good and bad. Perhaps it’s neither good nor bad; it just is. When pride is displayed in a way that shows self-confidence and serves your community, it has positive effects. When pride is displayed by putting others down, leading to arrogance or hubris, it has negative effects.
Okay then. What about MY pride? I thought about it… I am proud of my efforts to influence my son in a way that has produced this result: his acceptance into what I believe is a prestigious organization. I mean, yes, HE did the work to get the grades and service hours. Come to think of it, he didn’t thank me for encouraging him, but he didn’t hate me in the process. I must be doing something right. Success! Initiate chest out, head back, and huge smile.
I am beginning to understand how my mom is still proud of my accomplishments. A mother’s pride never ends. It starts with the first flutter of pregnancy. We feel a tremendous amount of pride when we look at our baby’s face. We pour our heart and soul into caring for this child, laughing when they laugh and crying when they cry. We do our best to do right by them – not too much, not too little. We are proud when they reflect our values, our looks, our character, and of course, when they succeed. We cling to these moments and are heartbroken by the concept that we must let them go so they can continue to grow. But we do it anyway, to the best of our ability. We are mothers.
I can only speak to the way pride feels up to this point in my life. But I hear the pride and excitement in my mom’s voice as she celebrates another achievement in my life. And it’s displayed as my 93-year-old grandmother sings Happy Birthday to my mom. I suppose it never ends.
Fathers, I see you. I am certain you feel an immense amount of pride for your children as well. But alas, I’m not a father, so let me address the ladies.
Mothers: Strut your stuff. You’ve produced sweat and tears over the years. You’ve lost sleep, worked extra hours, worried and shouted. You’ve asked, “How on earth did you get so muddy?”, “Do I have to come back there?!”, and “What time will you be home tonight?” You’ve hung artwork on the walls, made pancakes for a good report card, and taken thousands of photos of awards ceremonies, school activities, sporting events, and dances. My guess is that your children are working hard, finding their way, and doing some pretty amazing things.
Chest out and head back, my friends. You deserve it.