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I'm Not Proud (But I Am)

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Having a conversation with a friend the other day, I heard myself rattling off all the milestones my daughter had recently achieved. It sounded braggy, even to me, and so I faltered on my words—not normally considering myself to be a braggart. Particularly in this instance, talking to a friend who has a son right around my daughter’s age, I realized how inappropriate my gloating was. I immediately apologized—not wanting my friend to think I was engaging in some kind of competition with her over milestones that I didn't even think were all that important.

Thankfully, she laughed me off and said she knew I wasn’t trying to make her feel less-than as a parent simply by sharing my pride. This led to a deeper conversation, however, about the true root of that pride and why I have found myself boasting about my daughter’s accomplishments more than I ever have any of my own.

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It didn’t take long for me to realize it was coming mostly from a place of self-consciousness. Not typically one to care much what people may think of me, I had to admit it had suddenly become inherently important that people view me as being a good mother. It had become inherently important that I be a good mother.

I am doing this on my own. I chose to adopt as a single woman after a serendipitous series of events led me directly to my daughter: A gift, after losing my own fertility and years spent fearing I would never get this chance. Part of me feels a pressure to be something more now, simply because I did make the choice to embark upon this journey alone. It sometimes feels as though I have something to prove to the masses; an overwhelming need to validate my own worth in this new role.

I am not proud of the reasons behind my shameless bragging, but I am still so proud of her.

Even beyond that, her adoption literally fell into my lap. I wasn’t working with an agency, or seeking out a healthy infant. Her birth mother found me. Chose me. Quite literally hand-picked me to be this perfect little girl’s mother. And because of that, I sometimes feel like it is on me to prove she made a good choice; to be worthy of that choice she made.

Perhaps I would have felt that as a mother regardless, but I can’t help but believe it may have been compounded by the circumstances surrounding my journey into motherhood. A self-conscious place borne of the path that led me here, now desperate to know I am viewed as being strong and adept enough to handle this on my own—wanting to know that others see me as deserving of this amazing gift I have been granted.

While I truly am proud of my little girl and all of her accomplishments, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t possibly love her more. Even if she were struggling or falling behind, my heart would still be swelling with pride. So my need to share with everyone else how far she has come? That is my own little bank of self-doubt.

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I am not proud of the reasons behind my shameless bragging, but I am still so proud of her, of the person she is becoming and the ways in which she is thriving. Maybe, by extension, that truly is a reflection of me and the type of mother I am becoming.

Now I just need to spend more time allowing myself to believe that, rather than fighting to convince everyone else.

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