I have been thinking a lot lately about the gifts we give our children. Not gifts like game consoles, bikes, and the occasional ugly sweater, but those gifts that come as a function or byproduct of parenting and role modeling. Of course, sometimes they aren’t always gifts…sometimes they are handicaps. But the point is, we give to our kids so many things that they will carry with them.
We hope that we will provide them with all the knowledge and tools that they need to live a happy life. We do this through the way we raise them, the people and experiences we expose them to, the expectations we have of them, and the role modeling we provide them. It is not an easy feat. You hope that you give them just the right blend of responsibility and freedom…thoughtful contemplation and whimsy…kindness and backbone…drive and life balance – all the things you believe will send them down the right path.
Alas, parents are not perfect and neither is our world. Not everything is sunshine and lollipops – life can be hard. People make mistakes, promises are broken, psyches are scarred, and burdens are carried. And yet, the children endure and do the best they can with what they have.
I have always known that I am not a perfect parent. I have made many mistakes, omissions, and wrong choices. But I also have had many successes. I have drilled into my children a sense of ownership for their actions and a sense of integrity. I have also been purposeful in trying to surround them with people of good character and spirit. I am fortunate to have a legion of fierce girls around me who in walking upright have role-modeled for my children. In them my children see the power of intention and a commitment to being authentic without apology.
Tonight Cheyenne met in person for the first time my dear fierce girl friend Barbara who has been reaching out to her for years. Cheyenne has sent Barbara notes and gifts and Barbara has sent things to her. Everything Cheyenne gives Barbara has butterflies on it – that reflects the way we view Barbara – softly fluttering about keeping an eye on the well-being of others. Barbara is a strong, nurturing, smart, sensible, funny, and loyal woman. The kind of woman that you want your daughter to grow up to be.
Cheyenne had said many times that she wanted to travel out to Emmitsburg, Maryland to meet Barbara and I promised that we would some day. It occured to me a couple weeks back that our trip to DC would provide us the perfect opportunity to have dinner with Barbara. Our dinner tonight in Emmitsburg with Barbara and her husband Jack was lovely.
Barbara and Cheyenne
This was a gift I gave my child. The opportunity to appreciate and connect with a great role model…the opportunity to experience firsthand what happens when grace, sass, and humor come together in the perfect blend…the opportunity to fully appreciate the value in having friends who not only enrich your own life, but also the life of your child. Here is the takeaway today when it comes to what we give our children – remember, the adult community you interact with can also influence your child for better or worse. Choose carefully and ask yourself if you would want your child to grow up to be like the adults around them or to seek out friends like your friends. If the answer is no, think twice about who you are bringing around. I can say unequivocally that I would be delighted if Cheyenne grew up to be like Barbara or to have women like Barbara as friends. Let’s face it, that gift is way better than a game console.
Day one thousand four hundred and eighty-one of the new forty – obla di obla da