The Parent HumbleBrag
How do you keep a clear head in a town that races to nowhere and the measure of success is how busy your kids are? I have two pieces of advice:
- No one can get sick or injured. Flu shots are mandatory. Products like Mucinex can help keep you going when you do succumb.
- Kids and Parents: Run your own race.
My mom friend Penny grew up in the town we live in. I think of our suburb as full of transplants from all over the place. I forget that there are a chunk of parents who actually grew up here, went away, and then came back to raise their families. At coffee today, she was bothered by the new parenting humblebrag that she encountered when bumping into a high school classmate who also returned to Newton.
“Do you remember,” Penny asked, “when everyone would brag about how many hours they worked?”
“You mean, post college?”
“Yeah, when we used to work 50 to 100 hour work weeks?”
The number of hours worked was a proxy for how important and/or successful you were apparently.
Maybe that was an East Coast thing. I was working in Los Angeles after college and I never worked more than 50 hours in a week unless I was billing hourly. Our humblebrag code was different. It was about our commute time.
“One hour each way, but no bumper-to-bumper traffic! Found a secret side street way no one knows about and there are hardly any lights!!!!!”
“What about non-rush hour?”
“Still one hour because it’s all side streets.”
Our code was based on back road knowledge to mitigate road rage from dealing too much traffic. A really short traffic connoted high real estate values. None of us had that luxury after college; being able to afford a short commute was like either winning the lottery or owning your own helicopter. So the next best thing was a commute that moved.
In Orange County where I grew up, the humblebrag is based on the square footage of your house. I find that the most distasteful.
“Can you believe she is only 36-years-old with two kids but has a 6,300 square foot house?! And in Dove Canyon?!!”
It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t move back to my hometown!
Now Penny says, the humblebrag here in our town is parents bragging about busy their kids are. She recently ran into a friend who rattled off their weekend like a stat score: “Three hockey games, blah, blah, blah.”
“I’ll raise you. I got 4 soccer games, 1 basketball game, 2 soccer practices, a guitar lesson, 2 birthday parties and 1 book club that I hosted.”
“Yeah, it’s like that,” she said.
Her reply to her friends with all the hockey games was, “How very Newton of you.”
This is the counter attack to a humblebrag: The compliment-insult.
The truth is that our kids are busy and it’s a pain to run around like a maniac all weekend, driving them around. Counting up the day’s events is one way to tally out where the day went and whether or not it was productive. Bragging about the number of sporting events your kids participate in demonstrates both parental sacrifice while also showcasing the talent of your progeny. It’s an easy rat hole to fall down in.
My friend Penny fights hard to retain “normalcy” in a town full of overachievers. It’s possible, as she demonstrates, to keep a clear head in this marathon race called parenting. Driving stats or sports stats are not predictors of happiness or success of our children.
My friends at Mucinex would like to remind us all to let our kids run their own race. The world is a big place and success can be measured by many different rubrics. And if the race is indeed their own, it’s not a race to nowhere either.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Mucinex. The opinions and text are all mine.