A moment, here, to say a bit about what we teach our children....a topic relevant, particularly, to our past few weeks, with three graduations in the family--Drew & Viv, from UCDavis, and Erik, from St. Christopher--and a wonderful upcoming adventure for Alex, who heads off for a month in Europe this August.
One of the things about motherhood, something I've thought of often in the past decade, is that when the children are little, and you are busting your rear to do a good job and keep them well fed and happy and in clean diapers and out of the electrical sockets, it is pretty easy to think you'd probably get an A, maybe even an A+, in "being a mom" (if you were still in school, and being graded, and I was only 2 years out of college when I became a mom, so I can assure you that I thought about this a lot).
Then, somewhere in the middle of their sophomore year in high school (which our family has been through three times in the past 10 years), you wonder if, actually, you would even get a D. (D+, on a good day.) "Being a mom." Right. It gets crazy, and overwhelming, and sort of completely exhausting, motherhood. You wish they had been born with definitive instructions tattooed on their cute little backs, or something, anything, any directions...Please. You wonder why you ever thought you were up to the job.
Well, that is what happened to me, at least once or twice. Or more.
But there are many brief shining moments, and longer sweet hours, and finally a couple of decades, and you look at it all and know that there isn't another job that pays this well, if you stick with it and put your heart into it.
Jackie O. was right: the one thing you really, absolutely do not want to screw up is raising your kids. (Paraphrased, obviously.)
No book I write, no article I publish, no logo I create, no job at the top of the corporate ladder, no nothing would be worth more than this, to me. (Please remind me that I wrote this when the next carpool starts up, in the fall.) We brought these people into the world, and--on the clear moments, of which there are many, I know this--it is the greatest thing one can do. And worth a life's work. My life's work, anyway.
Bottom line: I think I've taught them a few good things. There's always more one can do, but I've tried pretty hard, and my heart is always in it. I think they know that. They also know that their father loves them just as much as I do, and that--as Martha says--is a good thing.
I hope they know that they mean more to us than anything. I hope they know that their grandparents taught us to love our family like this, that our siblings have continued the process with their children. I hope they know that we will be honored and deeply gratified if our children do the same.
Real bottom line: You simply can't put too much love into the world.
If I could teach them a few more things, things I would like, truly, to be better at myself, it would be to live every possible moment with generousity of spirit. Be gracious and kind to others. Be gracious and kind to yourself.
Listen. Hear. Your heart knows the truth. You will feel it.
Breathe, and breathe well, and be aware that what we have is now, what we want is right here, what we can do about it is to love.
Take your time. Feel the sun on your face...the sanctity of each breath...the genuine miracle that exists each minute that we are alive. It's just right here. Right now.
And remember to put away the dishes. Like I said, things I wish I was better at myself.