As I go along my daily life, most moments are fairly calm and predictable. People say ugly things to and about me (I rarely pay any attention) and people say nice things to and about me (I give 100 reasons why they’re mistaken). In the struggle that is daily life, though, sometimes those negative things do get through and, along with other circumstances, put me on the ropes. The positive things lift me off them. Every great now and then, someone says something so nice to me that I am both lifted up and knocked for a loop.
My son did it once at age six.
The man who has grown into the godling Jaegar, son of Brodin, God of Swole, was once a little boy whose most hated thing in the world was to throw up. I mean, this kid would rather take a beating than vomit. It was a real issue with him. When riding in the car one day in Latrobe, from the backseat, I hear, “Mom, would you rather throw up or just feel like you were going to throw up?” I said I’d rather just do it and get it over with. He said, “Not me! I’d rather just feel like it.” Several seconds went by. Then he said, “Mom, if I had to to save you, I’d throw up for a whole year.”
Simultaneously the sweetest and grossest compliment I’ve ever gotten.
But, what I heard was, “I love you enough to face my most dreaded monster for you.” What an incredibly precious moment for me as a mother. I was knocked for a loop, speechless.
I had a similar moment last week at work. I greeted a bunch of young coworkers in my usual, goofy way when one of them said, “Miss Jon Anne, you make me wish that you were my mom.”
What I heard was, “Of all the people I know that I could chose to be my personal protector and source of unconditional love, I would chose you.” What an incredibly humbling compliment! Again, I was knocked winding.
I know people who say that their goal is to become the person their dog already thinks they are. My dogs think I’m nuts and can’t decide whether their names are Trey and Ellie or Old Man and Pretty Girl or Dammit and Hush. I am the source of food and scratches, but I don’t believe they think I’m all that.
My son, this young woman and others during the course of my life have paid me compliments that I (knowing all too well my short-comings and failures) don’t believe I deserve. Those people and their beliefs in me make me try harder to be the person they think I am, not the small, petty person I often am in my heart. They make me want to treat others in a loving, respectful and accepting way, even when I want to scream and pinch their heads off.
Nah, it’s not my dogs that make me want to be a better person. It’s my son, it’s this young woman, my family, my friends and their convictions that I already am a better person. That’s what pulls me off the ropes, puts me back in the ring and keeps me slugging it out with my baser nature.
Their faith humbles me, sends me reeling but keeps me fighting – especially when it knocks me for a loop.