As parents, we tell our children we are proud of them and how pleased we are with their accomplishments or grades or sportsmanship pretty consistently. At least we try to. In between all the schoolwork, sports practices, training, teaching, and household responsibilities I think I do an alright job of remembering to encourage them. Most of us do and that’s kinda the point.
But last Mother’s Day my five-year-old daughter said five of the most powerful words a child could ever say to a parent…
“Mama, I’m proud of you!”
I had just preached a message for Mother’s Day at a local church and while the message was strong and the response was fantastic, I honestly felt like I had preached it WAY better in my living room. I had no sooner finished speaking than I began to be frustrated with how much time I had spent awake late at night, early in the morning, or away from my children studying and writing to prepare the message, only to have not nailed the delivery. Doubting myself completely, I walked offstage to a persistent Crickie butting her way through the family and a small crowd waiting to give me encouragement or ask questions. Once she got to me she pronounced blatantly in front of everyone as she pushed some sister out of her way…
“Mama, I’m proud of you!”
Instantly, I was reminded of a time almost 16 years ago when I had competed for the Mrs. America pageant. My first step was to win Mrs. Palm Beach County. (Yes, I did pageants. Well, one pageant. Hey, it was a great excuse to get in good shape and buy a cute swimsuit and beautiful evening gown!) The pageant was quite an experience and I came in first runner up…A little deflated and kind of embarrassed in front of friends and family, I walked backstage after the event. Dozens of women in various stages of changing outfits and family members flooding in to see their loved ones, six-year-old Daly Kay triumphantly marches into the huge room full of women carrying a bouquet of flowers bigger than she is.
“Where’s my WINNER MOMMY?!?” She repeatedly yells in and through the mass of people…Demanding to see her mother who she obviously mistakenly took for the winner of the day.
Embarrassed, I ran quickly to her (conveniently *hear the sarcasm* she is standing in front of the crown wearer) and whisper into her little face that no, no…her mommy didn’t win. But thank you so much for the flowers and I try to move away from the new Mrs. Palm Beach County as quickly and covertly as I can…
But Daly Kay was now joined by Ryli and wee Blissy who had toddled in to bestow their mother with what they thought would be the crowning touch of a bouquet. Ryli and Blissy were just as convinced I had won too. A fact they heatedly disputed no matter how I tried to hush them and move them along.
Daly Kay grabbed my hand and boldly said something I’ll never forget…
“But you’re a winner TO ME Mom. You’re MY winner-mommy. You won to ME Mommy.”
And I burst into tears.
Folks, we all know how important it is to encourage our kids. We all know how powerful it is for us to regularly encourage them and tell them that we are proud of them.
But let me just tell you–
After all these years of encouraging my children, it was so powerful to hear that they were proud of me. Even when I lost, they still thought of me as a winner.
So if that’s you moms, if that’s you dads…wondering if you should take the next bold step, try something new, give some risky venture a shot, or stand up and say something, do something, actually BE something more extraordinary than you already ARE… then be encouraged today and give it a shot. Like me you may feel like you missed the mark or bombed it all together but it will floor you when you hear your child say how proud of you they are. And that’s a risk worth taking.