You know that moment when you hold your new baby and you just want all the goodness and happiness in the world for that baby?
You want them to never have pain. Never experience heart-ache. Never have a single person say a negative thing to them.
Of course you realize in the back of your head that those wishes aren't realistic (or probably healthy), but you cannot imagine HOW anyone would ever want to hurt this little soul.
And then they poop all over you, scream when they are hungry, cry and arch their back when they are tired, and eventually talk back to you! YOU! The one who gave them life and survival and once wished nothing bad to ever come to them.
Welp. That is when you realize life isn't roses for anyone. And good thing, too. This kid needs some doses of reality.
I've been at this human-raising gig for almost 16 years (!!) and while I am still a newbie to many, I have concluded that there are only FOUR things I really want for my kids to have by the time they leave this nest we call home and venture out as adults in the world.
I want my kids to know how to work. To clean their rooms, sure, but also clean parts of the house that they didn't mess up. And mow the lawns. And weed. So many weeds to weed. I want my kids to know how to study, learn, take responsibility for grades and projects. I hope my kids learn that earning money isn't easy. Spending it is a breeze, but someone has to make it and that is some tough work at times.
I hope my kids work hard at something and can look at it and be proud. They can see how nice the yard looks after they spent an hour (or two) weeding it and feel satisfaction. I also hope my kids experience how sometimes you can work really hard and not see any results or get a bad grade, regardless if you put in the work. Because that is real life.
2: BE KIND!
Every school year we come up with a family theme to help our children have success and family camaraderie. As I look back on the last six years, almost all of them have to do with being kind and treating others with respect. Whether we like it or not, our children are learning A LOT about judgement and divisiveness, whether it is about politics, others' beliefs, or the social ladder of their peers. We hear about bullying and cyber-bullying and abuse. Facebook is full of "Look at what this group who I disagree with is doing--SO HORRIBLE!" and US vs THEM. I get dizzy thinking about all of the examples I could use for hurt in the world.
If I could wish for anything for my kids, I wish for them to be kind. To be slow to react in anger or excuse and quick to help. I hope my children are thoughtful humans who see when someone is alone or hurting and choose to be someone who responds. To understand that almost everyone is different than they are, and that is not something to fear or shun.
One of our family sayings (that result in many eyerolls) is "you can't control anyone but yourself." Even if you are kind, others will not be. People will judge and hate you. Oh freaking well. Let that be their problem. Be kind, anyway.
3: BE GRATEFUL!
All good things come from gratitude. If you are grateful for your body, you won't treat it like a garbage can OR hate that it doesn't look like someone else's body. If you are grateful for your friends, you won't want to gossip about them. If you are truly grateful, you find the positive instead of being someone who complains. There are always negatives AND positives.
Many people claim that because they see the negatives, they are realists. Which may be the case. I know there are plenty of realities and negatives. They're as obvious as the sun at noonday. It's much trickier to find the positives. To be grateful for the day, even when it is filled with pain and suffering. To realize that you're going to be sick, have pain, experience frustration and failure, but hey, you also have X, Y, and Z and those are some pretty great things in life, too.
4. HAVE FAITH!
I realize that my children may not believe in the same God I believe in. That their spiritual path may take them somewhere else completely. What I wish for them is that they believe in SOMETHING more than themselves. More than this piece of rock spinning in space. That there is MORE to life than what they see and do.
I want my kids to have faith in more. Because I believe that people who have faith in something more than themselves are people with purpose. Purpose drives you to do the right things, even if there is nobody who will see it. Even if you aren't getting credit. Doing more because you believe that there is more to life than work and pleasure. People with faith look outside of their world and help lift others. Whether that is because of a belief in God, gods, or the Universe, I hope my kids have faith.
WORK, KINDNESS, GRATITUDE, FAITH
What you will notice is that I don't say success, ivy league education, marriage, children, money, health, athletics, or anything else. Many of those things are out of their control, anyway. And they don't guarantee a happy life or responsibility for creating a good one.
And that's really it. You can't guarantee much in this life. But just like I tell my kids "you can't control anyone but yourself" even then you can only control your actions and your responses TODAY. Nothing is promised. But I hope that if my kids grow into adults who WORK, are KIND, GRATEFUL, and have FAITH, that they will be happy. And that people around them will be happier because of the humans I call children.
Who knows? Here's to hoping.
What do you wish for your children?