I read an article last week that just slayed me. I got out of bed like I normally do, made my coffee, cranked up the fire and sat down at the kitchen table to write. As I read Charles M. Blow's "The Passion of Parenting" in the New York Times, I began to cry, then started sobbing. I was overcome with the swelling grief that my kids must grow up and go away. This truth is as inevitable as the fact that they came from my body.
What began as a creep toward adolescence now feels like a full on gallop toward adulthood. I can't stop it, nor do I want to. But I have a love-hate relationship with this passage of time. Because, as the author poignantly puts it, "I can't imagine me without them."
Forward movement can sometimes feel like loss and demands a reevaluation of things. How are my kids doing? How am I doing? In a world that keeps distracting me, with an ego that keeps pulling me, it is me that sometimes needs reminders of what's important.
So, what started as self-exploration became a deep desire to chronicle some guiding values for my family. As my kids become masters of their own universe, here's what I want them to know, and what I'm trying to remember.
1. The high privilege of my life is watching you unlock your great gifts to the world and see you become the person you're called to be. I'm here to help you decode your calling and unlock the work you're put on this earth to do. Your job is to lean into that discovery and pursue it with passion.
2. You will make mistakes. That's how you grow. You cannot think your way into becoming yourself, so don't be scared to take risks. When I see you struggle, I'll be tempted to swoop in and rescue you. Instead, I'll model for you how to learn lessons with both strength and vulnerability. You need both.
3. One of the hardest lessons you will learn is to stick to something, especially when it's boring or difficult. But that's also when you will be most proud of yourself. I will remind you of your creativity and personal power because there's nothing better than accomplishing something you thought you couldn't do.
4. Before you were able to speak, I knew you -- deeply knew you -- through your eyes. I've always loved those eyes. When you ask, "what are you looking at," I think you know. My soul is stirred with ineffable love and pride when I look into your eyes.
5. The best gift I can give you is to listen. I will hear you with an open heart and reserve my judgments and personal agenda because I know you are teaching me just as much as I am guiding you.
6. Nothing I do on a screen is more important to me than you are. We both may need gentle reminders of this sometimes. I'll help you. You help me. The connection we keep to each other trumps everything else.
7. Gratitude is the pathway to joy, so I will teach you to be thankful -- for everything from abundance and the seemingly simple gift of breathing. Every morning, you get to wake up and choose how you see the world. I hope you choose gratitude, and then let it lead you to give back to the world in some way. For those who have been given much, much is expected.
8. Courageously be your authentic self. You will be tempted to negotiate who you are for the world's approval -- for my approval -- but don't do it. Don't live the script for someone else's life.
9. We will recalibrate our souls in nature. We will disconnect from our devices in order to reconnect to something much bigger and deeper. Walking on the earth will remind us of our firm footing on something larger than ourselves. You have been uniquely made. Remember that.
10. Kindness takes courage and thoughtfulness. I hope you lace all your interactions and how you approach the world with large doses of kindness. Every single thing you do or say can be done with kindness.
11. There will be times when you feel misunderstood or disrespected. We will not be perfect, but we will always be home. As you make your way in the world, you will always have a safe place to land here with us.