What Motivates Me? Seeking Validation Through My “F” Word

marlene-dietrich-400674_1280Boy, does my blog description sound pretentious and ego-inflated: I want to become “famous.”  When I hear that “f” word, my brain recalls images of 1940’s black and white Hollywood- ermine coats, diamonds and gloves, High Society and high hair.

No, I don’t fantasize about supper clubs or having an entourage.  What I truly crave is what I felt I’ve never truly acquired… validation.  I yearn to put something out there into the universe and have people — a lot of people — say, “That’s really, really good.  YOU are really, really good.”  That’s my motivation for pretty much everything I do, and I’m okay with that.  It’s my driving force behind my teaching (I’ve been doing that for the past 16 years), my mothering (daughter born in 2005; son in 2012) and writing.  For me, they are all intertwined.

After teaching English for a while, I began to feel like a bit of a hypocrite.  I had dictated to over a thousand students the correct way to write, but who was I to be the “expert” when I hadn’t written anything of consequence?  Sure, I was able to crank out an “A” paper for my professors, but there I was, trying to inspire the joy of writing to young people, when really, all I was doing was perpetuating a ritual of composing assigned responses for an audience of One.  I wanted to shatter that saying, “Those who can, do; those that can’t, teach.”  I wanted to be able to say to my classes, “I practice what I teach.”  I wanted students and parents to say, “She must know what she’s talking about- she’s published.

With the birth of my first child came an overwhelming desire to be the parent I never had- protective, loving, accepting, and supportive.  It pains me to say that I don’t feel that I had much of that in my childhood, but that’s my truth.  I think most of us spend our adult lives compensating for the impression our family of origin has made on us, and I am a glaring example.  My main goal as a parent is to remind my children how much they are loved, are special, are valued… along with their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and dreams.

Reading the above two paragraphs, I realize that mothering and teaching are pretty much the same thing- nurturing a child to realize their full potential and leading by example.  I remember one time as a new teacher, I was asked if I had children of my own.  I found that to be very insulting and, quite frankly, irrelevant.  But now that I am a mother, I understand the reasoning behind that question.  When you have children of your own, something inside you changes.  You are no longer the center of your universe- your life then begins to revolve around your babies.  Yes, you still need to nurture your own inner child and take care of yourself, but it’s still so you can be there for them.  It’s quite ironic, really: once I had a child, being a good mother became my top priority, yet that also made me a better teacher.

So, yes, I freely admit that I want to be famous- I want to be known for being a good writer on the topic of educating parents on how to effectively love their children.  A trifecta of validation-seeking behavior to somehow set the universe back in balance in my own little world.