Once More, with Feeling :: The Challenge of Naming What I’m Good At


Once More, with Feeling:: The Challenge of Naming What I'm Good At | Houston Moms Blog

As a mother of two boys with thirty plus years of first day ‘get to know you’ assemblies and newbie meet and greets, I never thought I would experience an existential meltdown over something as silly as an icebreaker. Rewind to the beginning of January when I officially joined the Houston Moms Blog team and, well, my three year old wasn’t the only one who spent part of the day laying on the floor with tears of frustration streaming down his face. 

It all started off simple enough, a fun way for the veterans and the new recruits to get to know one another. What’s your favorite food? {No brainer :: French fries. Lots of ketchup.} How about your favorite movie? I’ve faced this question often enough to answer on autopilot. {FYI, it’s a two-way tie between The Princess Bride and The Terminator.} 

But after a few days of bonding over shared interests in TV shows and beverages, they threw a curve ball. 

Name two things you’re good at. 

For the first time that week, my mind blanked. Like, asked-to-solve-calculus-ten-years-out-of-school blank. 

I had no problem coming up with my favorite song, my favorite drink or snack, or book. But when asked to say two simple things I’m good at, I went into full panic mode.

Of course I could come up with several things that I felt okay at. I’m okay at baking. I’m okay at getting my kids to school on time. And let’s not discount the amazing feat of keeping two tiny humans alive day in and day out. I rocked that one pretty solidly for 1,213 days straight.

But something I’m actually good at? Yeah, can’t help you there. I’m like that kid who doesn’t know the answer to a pop quiz, scrunched down in their chair and hoping to go unnoticed. Please don’t call on me. Please don’t call on me. Please don’t call on me.

I finally answered with something vague like remembering to take pictures at family events and hoped no one questioned me further. They didn’t, but it stuck with me the rest of the day. I felt so shaken I didn’t even check back to see other responses to the question until much later that night. And that’s when I got my second surprise of the day. 

Notorious for my lack of confidence, I figured I was the only one who struggled with that question. But funnily enough, as the discussion went on several other women admitted how challenging they found that particular icebreaker as well. Smart, funny, capable women, none of whom felt confident enough to list two simple things they’re good at. 

Why is it that we’re so willing to doubt ourselves? I mean, if you asked me two things I’m bad at I’d have a list so long it’d make War and Peace look like a light read.

But seriously, I made two human beings from scratch, got through a wicked case of postpartum anxiety and depression, and figured out how to hide the snacks I bought for myself from my husband and kids without detection. If I can do all that, I can certainly come up with something I’m good at. 

So with that in mind, I’d like a do over. I’m asking myself {and anyone reading this blog post}, what are a two things I’m good at? 

I’m good at coming up with story ideas. I hope to one day flush them out and see my name on a book at Barnes and Noble.

I’m good at teaching myself new things. I have degrees in English Lit and History, but taught myself photography and photo manipulation from scratch {with a little help from YouTube}. 

I’m good at digital illustration. Not as good as I wish, but better than I once was, and I hope to be even better tomorrow. I’m using these skills to create works of art for an auction at my son’s pre-school that will {hopefully} keep tuition costs from going up and make childcare that much more affordable for those that need it. 

I’m the ONLY person who knows what my three-year-old son means when he’s had a bad day and says he needs his “orange”. {It’s an orange garbage truck by the way. Not the small one, or the one with the yellow and red trash cans. He wants the metal one he got for his birthday.} And while I originally discounted this skill as something not worth mentioning, the truth is our house runs a lot smoother when everyone feels understood. 

Am I the absolute best at these things? No. {Well, except for the last one. NO ONE can translate my son better than I can}. Are they as important as curing cancer or finding alternative energy sources? Of course not. But it’s important to remind ourselves that we are all good at something, and all those somethings matter. So they next time someone asks me what I’m good at, I won’t be as quick to dismiss myself. 

So…what are two things you are good at? 

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Lauren M. is a native Houstonian who now lives one street over from the house where she grew up in Sugar Land. After a brief fling with Austin where she received her Bachelors Degree in English Lit from Southwestern University, she returned home to attempt to write the great American novel {or, you know, the next Harry Potter series}. A short while later a friend recruited her for a kickball league where she met a tall, handsome engineer who quite literally swept her off her feet. After tying the knot in 2014, they soon welcomed their first son Raleigh {October 2015}, and little brothers Renner {January 2018} and Rafe {September 2021}. When not chasing around her three crazy Texas tornados and reveling in the boy mom life, Lauren has discovered a newfound passion for photography and Photoshop, creating whimsical family portraits at @andwhetherpigshavewings on Instagram. You can also find her at @polyjuiceandpixiedust .


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