“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Wow. I’ve had this quote saved on my desktop for a while now. I ponder it, put it down. Pick it back up, then drop it like a hot coal. Does my kid think of me when he thinks of fairness and integrity? Do I really want to know what words/concepts/emotions make him think of me? or what words/concepts/emotions are conjured when he thinks of me? Do ANY of us parents want that particular truth laid bare?
I know a lot of things about my parenting skills. I know that despite being an expert in the field of child development, no experience or education prepares me for how to react when I see pain in those blue eyes which so exactly mirror mine. Nothing prepared me for the joy I feel when someone tells me how great they think he is. Nothing kept me from being easy on him when most likely I shouldn’t have. Nothing keeps my heart from melting when I see his room-brightening grin. I’ve made a ton of mistakes, and I’ve done a lot that seems to have worked.
And I have learned…….
……that he’s not going to grow up on my schedule, but on his. I can help or hinder this process, but cannot force it.
…..that while very occasionally I only did the best I felt like doing, most of the time I have done my absolute very best. Even when he hated my best.
…..that everyone finds their way eventually. And letting him find the way when it involves some angst or some consequences? Gotta do it. Gotta sit back and watch, and then cry behind a closed door if I must.
…..that there really is no greater love on earth than a mother has for her child.
What do I hope he thinks of when he thinks of me? I hope he knows:
…..that I will always love him exactly the way he is.
…..that he’s the whole enchilada with extra sour cream and guac.
…..that I will always love him no matter what.
…..that fairness and integrity are part of my parenting package.
…..that he is safe from emotional harm.
…..that even when I selfishly fall into the “after all I’ve done for you!” speech, he knows that no sacrifice was too big, no battle regretted, no effort wasted; he’s worth it.
…..that I appreciate his wit and talent and brilliance; I know that he’ll be a world-changer—in HIS own way, not mine (though hopefully his progressive thinking will continue…..).
And yes, more than anything, I hope he thinks of fairness and integrity when he thinks of me.
That alone will fill my spirit with Peace.
Hopefully he will move out into the world carrying some of that Peace in his spirit as well.
I love you, Eric.