Father’s Day is coming up and yes, I am not a father, but it got me musing about parenting. Parenting is not for cowards. We all flail about trying to do the best that we know how to parent our kids. We have Super Parent moments and we have Bad Mommy and Bad Daddy moments. But we try earnestly to give our children a loving foundation for them to be successful, happy adults. I have six kids ranging in ages from 6 all the way up to 22. I got to wondering; what was I ultimately trying to express to them as their parent? The following is a letter to them attempting to explain these thoughts…
I want you to fly. I don’t want you to live in a box. Being comfortable outside of the box allows you to see more possibilities and to be able to spread your wings wider in pursuit of those possibilities. Boxes can seem safer than the open sky, but whether the walls are made of cardboard or steel, they can still crumble as well as merely confine. Finding yourself in a ruined box is more difficult to overcome than to learn to live without the walls in the first place. I want you to grow to be independent and confident people that are not afraid of your imagination or taking chances to go that extra mile on a path that is unknown to you. It is true that life doesn’t owe you anything and that you can’t expect it to be fair. But it is your responsibility to make the most of yourself and play the cards you are dealt the best you can and be ready for the next hand.
Don’t be shy to be and do what you see for yourself. You are the only one that wakes up everyday and walks in your shoes, so walk the path you feel that is right for you, not the path others believe fits you. Don’t let fear, anger or boredom rule your decisions or your attitude. Don’t waste your time wishing or waiting for something else or for things to change. Remember that opportunity only dances with those on the dance floor. Make life happen. If you don’t like something in your life, take the steps to change it, but realize that this will usually take time to accomplish. Most things that are important require time, patience, energy and stamina. And you will certainly have pain and you will certainly make mistakes and you will certainly fail at some of your endeavors, but do not accept them as the end. Your failings are an opportunity to learn and adjust your efforts based on valuable experience. It is not about the falling, it is about how you pick yourself back up and continue on as a stronger, smarter person.
Be tolerant and kind to others but also be sure to stand up for yourself and what you think is important. If others are unreasonably rude to you, realize it is their own unhappiness speaking and it is their issue, not yours. Be picky about who you keep close to you. If you think about it, you do know what a true friend is. Don’t expect most to understand you and be okay with that. Know that everyone has their own unique perspective and that’s okay too.
Keep learning and trying new things. There is always more. To stop is to stagnate, so stay open and live fully.
Lastly, I want you to know that I do not necessarily want to shield you from the world, but I do want to help you have the tools to navigate within it. I am not perfect and I do not know everything. I will not always agree with your choices, and you will not always agree with mine. We will be angry with each other sometimes, but know this… I love you and I will always be there for you regardless of the circumstances.
And because your mother is a nut for quotes, I will end my ramblings to you with one from the book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” By Richard Bach:
“Your whole body from wingtip to wingtip,” Jonathan would say, other times, “is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought and you break the chains of your body too.”