I was going to write a fiction piece today but my head got sidetracked. I will probably write the piece tomorrow because it's still buzzing around in there but other things are battling for space and they aren't compatible things. So instead I'll write a quick thing about those things and leave the other thing for tomorrow's thing...thing...thing...thing...
Talking online with a friend today about how nice it is to discover new things about our kids after reading her daughter's blog. I've written before about all of the things I thought C would be and none of them were what he ended up being. I've also talked about how great it was when he first started having ideas that were obviously his. Not parroted from us or from teachers at school or even from friends but from listening to the world around him and coming up with his own unique take. When you raise a thinker you know you've done a good job.
One of the things my friend said about her daughter was that she marched to the beat of her own drummer. I, of course, think this a really good thing. Not just because I have my own personal percussion section in my head, but because if you march to someone else's drum beat you will only march to places they want you to go. It's the ones that hear their own music that venture off the path and discover new things. Cami is listening to a totally different band right now. If you want to check out her blog it's right here.
Then the other thing that took over my head was the death of a friend's mother. She's young so her mother couldn't have been too old. It doesn't sound like it was expected. My friend is understandably devastated. Brent and I have talked about this a lot. Is it better to be prepared and expecting it or to be surprised by it? His father died unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. My father also died from a heart attack but he had been ill for years. Jack was only 58 and my father was in his 80s. Neither one was easy. Just hard in different ways. Losing a parent, even as an adult, is really difficult.
These things made me think of how we view ourselves through the lenses of our children and our parents. Both sides shaped who we are today. Both made profound differences in our worlds and how we view them. Just one was the foundation we built from and the other was what was built on the foundation we provided. Layer after layer of people forming us, shaping us, surprising us, defining us. I rebelled. I worked hard to not give C a reason to rebel. To break off? To be his own person? Sure, absolutely. But to reject what I tried to teach him? No. I didn't want that. Just as I'm sure my parents weren't happy with my rejection either. But they had a group of us, so one black sheep isn't too bad of a record really.
We are closing in on the anniversary of Dad's death and it's always a time for reflection for me. I think of him, naturally, but I also think of how I want to be remembered. What is important? What lasts? What have I taught C that will stay with him even after I've gone? And is it what I hoped it would be?
My dad taught me to tell a story. And if you can, make it funny. I wonder if he would have thought that was the most important thing he could have taught me? I mean, don't get me wrong, he also instilled a really strong work ethic. When I worked. But my mother also instilled a really strong sense of don't work forever in me. So I got both of them. When I do work I really need to be the best, but I don't have to work to feel complete. So would he have been disappointed that I choose not to work now? As most of you know my dad was religious. Elder in the church and the whole bit. And as you all know I am not. So I think he was probably disappointed in that. But then I wonder how much. Because one of the things I discovered about my dad after he died was that he was baptized on the day my parents got married. It was important to my mother that he be of the same religion. And my mother was the most important thing in the world to my father. So I wonder how much he was upset that I wasn't religious vs. upset that I let Mom down.
Then I look at the things that I most want C to get from me. I want him to view the world as a happy experience. Sometimes that's really hard to do, but man, if there was one thing I could give him it would be the ability to find joy in every day. To be truly happy. I want him to work hard enough to be as successful as fulfills him. I hope he finds someone to share his life with that is nice to him. But it's not that important to me that he finds a partner, if he is happy solo then that's what matters. But if he finds he wants to have a wife then I just want her to be nice to him. I know too many people whose spouses are not kind to them and it's a miserable existence. But what have I truly taught him? Probably how to be a smart ass and shout at the TV.
We don't get to choose what we teach our kids. Just like our parents didn't get to choose what they taught us. Not really. We can model behavior, we can try, we can lead and hope they follow, but they are going to find their own drummers and their own paths. Just like we did.
And we will miss them as the leave to find their own lives And we will miss our parents when they leave this life all together. And the beat goes on...