I got a tattoo a few weeks ago for Leon. I’m not posting pictures of it anywhere because I worked hard on the design of it, and it’s simple and easy to copy. The day after I got it, Leon noticed it and pointed at it, and I told him that it’s there because Mommy loves him. Which is true, but I wish I thought of something a little more meaningful to tell him about it. Then again, he’s like…a toddler…and likely forgot what I said as soon as he saw the snacks in my purse.
I got it because I figure, even if he becomes a lazy, Red Pill neckbeard who texts while driving and doesn’t brush his teeth regularly…he’ll still be my son and I’ll still love him for the kid he is right now.
When I was pregnant with him, I hoped to have a child who would one day be successful. Like a president or something. But not all presidents are created equal and not all “success” is the same. So since that time, I’ve been wondering…what is success, anyway?
Now is where I’d insert the Merriam-Webster definition of “success,” but I think we all have Google here so I’ll enter my own, very inaccurate definition of how I interpret success.
Up until my early 20s, I thought being successful meant excelling financially. Living well, being influential, retiring early. Owning a vacation home and renting it out most of the year. Having a 9-to-5 where you convince the C-suite that you’re really as awesome as everyone says. Having enough money to get your nails done and your hair blown out and get a massage once a week and get your eyebrows tattooed because doing your own makeup is so 2011.
Basically, fitting into the cookie-cutter mold of what society expects an upper- or upper-middle class person to do. Demerits if you have visible tattoos or facial piercings or don’t rotate your wardrobe at least once a year (all me, by the way).
But that definition doesn’t take into consideration much more than career success. What about those who have different life goals? What about someone who has a part-time “day job” but is an influential ally for LGBT rights? What about someone who can’t work but instead spends their time knitting sweaters for NICU babies? So there’s definitely more gray area than I previously considered.
Then I redefined success to mean being happy and healthy. But does that mean that people with mental and/or physical illnesses can’t be successful? I wouldn’t say so at all. Even the examples in my first definition of success might not be happy or healthy. Case in point: just consider how sad Melania always looks.
So success is something that I’m not sure how to define.
So does it even matter if Leon is successful? I know I’m not blowing anyone’s mind here, but I’d rather have him strive to help others, be a good citizen, and work hard to be happy. If doing all that means he’s sleeping on an air mattress in an unfurnished apartment when he’s 23, then so be it — I’ll still be proud of him and I’ll still have my little Leon tat. (But if I ever find out he reads Breitbart I’m getting a coverup.)