Archive | July, 2013

Rambling of the Day: In pursuit of our legacy

2 Jul

Emma running in sandAs I often am, I was disturbed by some of the things I heard and saw the other day at work. A restaurant is a place where you can seriously interact with every type of person from any background, with any story and any personality. Honestly I think I’ve seen it all. But I was particularly bothered the other day to hear some of the younger people who work there talking about their bad relationships with their parents. Casually, in conversation during downtime, I heard a girl say, “I never see my dad. He’s always working” Another said, “I really don’t talk to my mom. We don’t get along so she pretty much just ignores me.” A young man in the room said, “My dad is always either at work or drunk.” They sort of laughed these things off and started talking about other things, but I was struck by their words. Three out of three kids in this conversation have a bad relationship with one of their parents. Why?

There could be a million reasons, I know. Maybe the mother doesn’t talk to her daughter because she is just too busy with working full time and taking care of three kids that she doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with the snotty attitude of her 17-year-old. Or perhaps the father that is always drunk when he’s home has a boss that berates him day in and day out, and he simply can’t deal. I don’t know. What I do know is that there is no excuse good enough for you to not take advantage of the opportunity to have a relationship with your children. I could give countless reasons for why this is true, but I’m going to just stick with one, and that is that no matter what you do, who you are, where you came from, what you built, earned, or saved during your lifetime, your children are your legacy. If you do not take time to learn about, understand, play with, talk to, grow with, and love your children, nothing else matters.

Your life may look like the definition of success from the outside, but if your home is crumbling from the inside it is all for naught. We all want to do great things with our lives, to make something of ourselves, but we can’t do it at the expense of our children.

I’m not saying it’s easy to maintain a good relationship with your kids all their lives. As parents, we are not the only influences in their lives and there will be times when they push us to the brink and make us question whether it is even worth it to keep fighting for that relationship.

But we have to remember that it always, always is.

I don’t know what I’m going to do if my daughter comes home someday stoned from a party. Or tells me she hates me when I don’t give her what she wants. Or shuts me out of her personal life because it isn’t cool to tell me things anymore now that she’s a teenager. I cringe at the thought that she will ever outgrow my hugs and kisses. I worry about the day when she becomes embarrassed of me in front of her friends and begs me to leave the room. I fear the crucial moment when she keeps something from me that I desperately need to know so I can help her.

But I realize, from having been in all these positions not so long ago, that these are the moments I must press on more persistently. It is in the struggle to continue to fight for her through the toughest of times that I will win her over with my love. I might go out of style for a time, but my consistent, relentless love for her will be what keeps her close. Even when she strays, I’ll love her the same. Even when she lashes out in anger, confusion, and pain, I’ll pursue her heart. I will never give up on her.

I’m still a very young mom and I know I have a long road ahead of me with my daughter, but there is one thing I know for certain – I couldn’t care less what the world thinks of me as long as my daughter knows that what I did, I did for her. As long as she thinks I’m a success, then I am one.

I was 17 years old when I found out I was going to have a baby. I had always thought my parents were strict, pretty hard on me when I did something wrong. I truly expected to be lashed out at, berated, condemned – it’s what I deserved. I had deceived, caused myself and others pain, and made a complete mess of my life and my future. I thought I would be left to handle my mess on my own.

Instead, a blindingly bright light shone in the darkness, and I was enveloped in the warmth of unconditional love. I felt the full weight of a parent’s passionate pursuit for his child, and I was overcome with a wave of compassion and care the likes of which I had never before experienced. At a time when it would have been much easier to give up on me, they pressed in closer, and made me realize that that is what it means to be a parent. That is what it means to relentlessly and unreservedly love someone. That is what it takes to build and sustain a deep, meaningful relationship with your children. Sure, it’s important to be there for the good times – the awards, the championship games, the class field trips. They make the best memories. But that’s easy; any parent can do that. Good parents stick around through the bad times – and great parents trudge through the muck of the worst of the worst times, following their children into the darkest places of their lives, and filling those places with the light of love, no matter how long it takes to make them see it.

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