The Gospel According to Tandy: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from my Dog
Lesson Two: Be Proud of your Bone
Whenever someone comes to the door, my dog Tandy is overjoyed. She rushes in in her usual, clumsy way to the front of the house, tail wagging to greet whomever has decided to visit her. (Because what other job would the UPS man, plumber, or minister have?)
Once the door is opened and the guest, familial, friendly, or professional, is ushered in, Tandy promptly searches the house for whatever bone she has been working on.
You see, Tandy spends most of her nights diligently chewing a rawhide bone. She starts in the center of the bone, working to separate the two ends from one another. This can take anywhere from one to three days, depending on the toughness of the bone and how tired Tandy is from her day of napping.
Once the two ends, or “the knobs,” are separated, Tandy uses them as a pair of batons, tossing them in the air for delighted guests or recently returned owners. She tosses them in the living room, threatening to break the flat screen TV. She tosses them in the dining room, occasionally losing them on top of the dining room table. She tosses them off the beds in loud, floor-cracking thunks. She tosses them at the feet of guests or, every so often, carries them in her mouth, parading them up and down the hallway like her own personal catwalk. (Or, erm, dogwalk, as the case may be.)
My mother and I joke about her display of pride. We tease her as she does another little turn on the catwalk, chastising her for her proclivity towards showing off.
But, then, I began to think: Why not? Why shouldn’t she be proud of the work she put into her bone? Why are we so quick to call her earned pride a negative attribute? Where is the line between confident joy in one’s accomplishments and conceited braggadocio?
While I know that this pride vs. arrogance affects both men and women – I do feel that the negative ramifications of pride are concentrated on women on a daily, recurring basis.
We are taught from an early age that we are to hate ourselves – anything else would be narcissistic, unladylike trash. If someone calls us pretty or beautiful (GASP!), we respond with the 101 things we don’t like about our physical appearance. (Lack of thigh gap, presence of crow’s feet, unbreakable belly fat, anyone?) If we simply say “thank you,” we are looked down on in a Regina George-esque battle of “Oh, so you think you’re pretty? Who are you to agree with me?”
If someone compliments our outfits, we justify it by saying how old the piece of clothing actually is (as if that proves just how unremarkable we are) or we quickly recite where we got it as a means of leveling the playing field. “Oh, this? It’s from Loft. It’s nothing special. You can buy it there. See? I’m not a threat. I’m ordinary. I’m not better than you.”
And if someone compliments our work performance? Geez! We can’t even send one e-mail without apologizing for our thoughts, opinions, suggestions, and (dare I say it?) existence. Read HERE, HERE, and HERE.
I don’t know how or why it started – why it has been ingrained in us to not take up space with our bodies and our minds. Why we should apologize for our success, rather than celebrate it. Why we can’t seem to be a boss, and have to settle for being plain bossy.
Perhaps it’s because for a long time (i.e. millenia), women’s main roles were child rearing and household sustenance – thankless jobs that needed to be done. Men longer freed from the hunter-gatherer role, have been able to celebrate corporate climbs for far longer periods of time, making them more comfortable (and acceptable) in workplace pride.
I watch one of my oldest friends with her son and I am bowled over by what an amazing mother she is. When I complimented her, she said she wasn’t sure anyone had ever told her that. And why not? Why shouldn’t we compliment mothers more for the work they do? The back breaking, sleepless, whole-mind-and-body job that, yes, we are biologically capable of doing, but still requires extreme skill, compassion, and intelligence.
Being a mother is freakin’ hard and to actually raise a child to become a useful and productive member of society deserves a bottomless mimosa bar, a $100,000 check for the first 18 years of life, and at least some paid vacation. Then, to raise a child AND work a full time job? My god – why can’t we celebrate mothers for not turning to a life of bank robbery or filial cannibalism?
Instead, there seems to be nothing a mother can do right in this day and age. From breast feeding in public to disposable diapers, from being a stay-at-home mom to working part- or full-time, no matter what a mother does, she does it wrong. And, though I have never personally taken my own child to the playground, I can’t imagine a group of mothers sitting on the park bench, high-fiving each other and sipping beers because they, despite all odds, got their child off to school on time. It’s just expected of you to do and to do quietly without praise.
How could this not follow us into the work place?
And I am no better – guilty of all of these (physicality-complaining, outfit-explaining, “just”-writing, pride-swallowing) destructive habits. I put impossible standards on myself that can never be reached. And, so, when someone extends gratitude for my service, compliments my outfit, or praises me for a job well done, I feel as though I need to clarify just how awesome, talented, beautiful, and hardworking I am absolutely NOT.
To be considered humble?
That is the goal, right? To be humble?
Synonyms for the word are “meek” and “insignificant.” These are words I do not want to model my life after. I want to create change, I want to be heard, I want someone, somewhere to read what I write and say, “I have felt that way too. This has importance.” I can’t do that by being insignificant. By being humble.
Isn’t a compliment, when truthfully given, a reinforcer of just how special, unique, and needed we are?
So, why is it so hard for women to say thank you with no qualifiers? To say our opinions or recommendations without apologizing for intelligence and logic? To be as proud of our work as Tandy is with her bone?
The truth is – no matter how fancifully Tandy’s bone-tossing is, how loud, how dramatic, she always continues to work at it. She recognizes the labor and time that goes in to it, that her job is still not done, and, yet, she still permits herself the time to celebrate how far she’s come.
Wouldn’t our lives be a lot better if we allowed ourselves that freedom? That pride? That joy?
For more Gospel According to Tandy, click HERE.