I had an AHA! moment this morning, a shift in perspective that I would like to keep and apply in my life. It dawned on me that my weaknesses are my greatest strengths. Amazing, right?
I was talking to my mom on the phone, as I often do on my way back from dropping off the kids. And as usual we began to discuss the children’s schoolwork. Sighing over the long hours they spend doing homework, my mother commented that I never had to study. “You did everything chik-chak,” she said. Chik-chak is an expression in Hebrew for quickly, but it could also mean carelessly. “I didn’t want to tell you then,” my mother said, “but I admired how you learned so fast.”
In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy tells Mr Bingley: “The power of doing any thing with quickness is always much prized by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance.” Rather than appreciate my quickness, I had always taken Mr. Darcy’s reproof to heart. Quickness was bad. Secretly I was proud of how quick I was, yet I felt ashamed of what I perceived as careless and wholly underserved results. I should only do well if I work hard, right?
I longed to become meticulous and studious but did not wish to put in either the time or the effort that was, to be truthful, barely required in order to get much better than good-enough results. See the dilemma? Why work hard if I could get 100% on my history exam without studying? This was the beginning of my flakiness. Never having had to work hard, I never learned how to work at all.
And yet — can flakiness become an asset? a talent? a tool for moving ahead in the world? “The family tree project you created in seventh grade is more beautiful than your sister’s,” my mother said this morning.
A morning of revelations! My project, more beautiful than that of my meticulous and studious sister’s? See, I remember this project exceedingly well. I started it, I believe, the day before it was due. And I still remember it as a very loud project from how much my mom yelled at me while I was working on it. I remember the crooked titles I made for the photos. Blah.
So is it my mother’s memory that is remiss, or was I overly critical of myself? Is it possible to do well and quick at the same time? Can I finally be openly proud about how fast I am?
And more important, if I can view my greatest weakness, my flakiness (translated to speed), as a strength, can I also switch my point of view on what I perceive as the children’s weaknesses, and begin to see those as assets, strengthening and praising them as talents? If I could do that, I’d finally reach my mothering ideal. Perfection. Or maybe just an acceptance of who we are as we are.