Being Your Best Self

July 7, 2009

Stellaris_Yin_YangI’m a crunchy, touchy feelie, hippie parent. As such its often hard to come up with just the right words to tell your kid that biting her mom and laughing about it makes you wildly, furiously, and deeply unhappy. As a hippie, touchy feelie, AP, parent you are not, for example supposed to say “Do that again and you’re out of the family.” Nor is it encouraged to shout “Are you insane?” It’s just not the thing. Conversely the suggested mantras “Biting is not okay” and “We don’t bite sweetie,” just don’t really satisfy the deep, furious, wild feelings that are floating around the house at such moments.

As a result we of the Bradford family have adopted this concept of the “Best Self.” It’s this sort of Platonic ideal person that we have the potential to be. For whatever reason it’s a little more satisfying to say “Sweetheart, are you being your best self? No? What do you think you could do to be your best self?” It’s a little bit closer to what I’m thinking which is “You can not possibly be my child, if I didn’t scoop you up all wet and white from your mother’s womb, I would seriously wonder if you were switched at birth”

So what happens when you turn this wonderful parental device around on yourself? I mean as a touchy feelie, etc… I really shouldn’t hold my kids to a standard that I don’t hold myself to right? Right! I started thinking about this on the way home from Aikido tonight.

Twice a week I have a better than average chance of being my best self for an hour or so. Generally, if I rise to the occasion (read: if I’m not too broken when I arrive to get into the spirit) the blending and harmonizing lessons that my body learns during training become spiritual and emotional lessons that I carry with me into the next day. If I concentrate really hard I can go from Tuesday all the way to Friday blending my way through trafic, social tension, work problems, and ego problems. It’s these weeks when I feel empowered, confident, competent and just. It is these weeks when I am my best self.

This has not been one of those weeks. Aikido also teaches me forgiveness. I forgive me. I’ll do better tomorrow. The trick now is to find a way to be my best self all the time. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to go easy on the kids when they bite, hit, kick, and then laugh, remembering all the while that we are all on a journey to become our best selves.

What does your best self look like? When do you feel most like that person? What kinds of things make you forget your best self and be that other person?

Related Posts:
Parenting: What I’ve Learned So Far


  1. Comment by Elizabeth

    Elizabeth July 8, 2009 at 6:46 am

    I’ve actually tried asking Adriana, “Are you insane?” It may not have been one of my best parenting moments, but it did get her mimicking it back to me, so that it sounded like I had a little bitty Jon Stewart on my hands, which got us all laughing. And once we’re all laughing things have to get better.

    I like the idea of thinking of “my best self.” When we are having a rough day here, I know I do much better if I can remember not to think about what Adriana can do differently but what I can do. How can I made it easier for her to behave nicely? What does she need from me that I’m not giving (and that it’s possible for me to give)? Of course, there are plenty of days when I don’t realize that I need to stop and ask those questions until I have time to myself at the end of the day when I am no longer focused on just getting through. But usually then I can promise myself to be my better self tomorrow and to think about what I need to do to make the next day a good day.

    Thanks for making me think about this. I’m not sure Adriana’s quite at the age where I can talk to her about her best self and have her understand, but I like thinking about the things that I can do and what may work as she gets older.

  2. Comment by Jess

    Jess July 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I love this. I too have that deeply seeded anger when Reed causes pain to a dear loved one (alive or not) and sympathize with your frustration. I have asked myself “Are you insane?” when I say such things as “please keep your hands to yourself” or “teeth are not eat people”. It doesn’t reflect how deeply I want to discourage that behavior. I love the concept of being your best self. I’m going to think more on how I can encourage our family to be our best. Thanks Tucker!

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