Angelina Jolie Isn't the Only Mom Saved By Her Kids

angelina jolieIt's not often that celebrity moms come off as relatable to the masses. And yet, if you listened to Angelina Jolie spilling secrets about her life as a parent this week, she was saying something that gave me pause. Brad Pitt's other half says their kids have "saved" her from a "self-destructive" phase in life and turned around her spirit.

I understood her completely. My 6-year-old daughter has saved my spirit and then some. And now that she's old enough to call me on the carpet when I do something questionable, the mama-revamping just keeps coming.

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The changes start when we become pregnant for most of us -- we cut drinks, the smokers cut the cigs, and so on. There's really no choice in the matter. The same goes for dads, albeit to a lesser extent. There's a focus on having healthier foods in the house, for one.

And, as Angelina found with her brood, they bring a lightness of spirit into the house. They remind us that life is good and sweet, and we want to be happier and brighter.

But as they age, as they begin to ape our every action, there's a subtle change in our motivations. We want to be better because we want to present a better image of ourselves to our kids. And when they go to elementary school, forget it. You want to be better because they are comparing you to everyone else out there, and you don't want your kids thinking you're a total looooooser.

Case in point: every kid who has ever gone to kindergarten has learned in school that calling someone "stupid" is something only big fat meanie heads will do. And then, there you are, standing on front of the stove, trying to get the lid off that jar of spaghetti sauce, when you drop the worst word in kindergartendom. And there they go, racing to tell Daddy.

"Mommy just said that lid was stupid! Stupid is not a nice word." They shake that little head with such disgust that suddenly you see your own mother standing over you, her finger wagging, her tongue clucking. You are ashamed of yourself. You have done wrong. You must do better! You WILL do better.

Variations on this theme happen every day in every household, and they have for years. I will always remember reading in Beverly Cleary's Ramona books when I was a kid that cigarettes were bad, but smart Ramona Quimby had the answer! She replaced her daddy's cancer sticks one by one with rolled up pieces of paper. I will always remember, too, my father's face when he realized his pack of Camels had been Ramona-ized.

Our kids genuinely care about us being better people. And just as Angelina's six kids have saved her, because we care about what our kids think, they are our saviors too.

How have your kids helped you to be a better person?

 

Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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