Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4, 2011 ~ Day 360
Ten Hopes

I think it's fair and natural for mothers to dream about their children in the future and to harbor hopes for their lives.

That said, I don't want to become the kind of parent who lives through her children, a "stage mother" who attempts to mold my kids into the human being I always hoped to be.

For this reason, in these last few days of the year in which I've been writing, I am confiding into this 365 blog my hopes.

I'd rather write them all down quietly and let it go. I don't ever want to pressure my children to live the kind of life I have (or haven't) lived, or the life I'd wish for each of them.

Their lives are theirs! Win or lose, it's all about them.

So in my own quiet way, here are ten hopes I have for my own children:

10) I hope that my children will travel the world, much more than I have done. I hope they will see whole continents that I may never see - places like Africa, South America, Asia. There is great value in understanding how different people around our planet live. Creating friendships around the globe connects us powerfully to our shared (and different) values. I hope my three children will experience the wonders this beautiful Earth has to offer them.

9) I would love it if my children would give themselves the opportunity to grow a little, before they commit themselves financially to long-term debt. Since the age of 17 I have been saddled with significant debt in the way of school loans and later car loans... hopefully sometime soon even a house payment. Debt has a way of anchoring you to one place in life, to one geographic location. If my school loans hadn't come due six months after I graduated from college, I would probably have spent a few years seeing the world on a shoestring. That would have been fun.

8) I hope that my children will keep in close touch with each other as they grow and move forward into their own individual lives. The older I have grown, the more I have understood and deeply appreciated the value of family. I am closer to my siblings now than I've ever been. My children are so lucky to have siblings so near in age to each other... with only two years between them all (6, 4, 2). I hope that despite their present squabbles they learn along the way that the greatest gift in life a parent can give you, after their unconditional love, is a sibling.

7) I hope that my children will choose to have real weddings, whether in churches... on bluffs overlooking the ocean... bungee jumping, wherever. I hope they will understand (in a way that I definitely did NOT) that there is something sort of important about experiencing the traditions and conventions of society. I never had that white dress or walk down the aisle with my father. Looking back, especially given my father's Alzheimer's, I really wish I'd done those things.

I grew up thinking that elopements were the height of romance and that a wedding should really be about the two people getting married. In hindsight though, I realize that what makes a wedding truly special is being able to make those lifelong vows with the loving support of all of your family and friends beaming upon you. I hope my children will, on their own and without pressure from me, see value in sharing their sacred moments.

6) I hope that my three children will be more confident than I have been. I hope they will recognize from the get-go how special and amazing they all are, in their own unique ways. I hope they will value themselves too much to let others treat them badly. Once, a very right-wing Christian young man I'd been romantically entangled with during college snapped at me - "I hate myself for having used you, and I hate you for having let me do it." While his emotions might have been too volatile for the situation, what he said was eye-opening. I *did* let him walk all over me, and I hope my own children never allow others to do that to them.

5) I hope my children learn not to take for granted the relationship they have with their grandparents, us (their folks), their siblings or their friends. I took a lot of things for granted as a child and now it is too late to go back and re-do them. I rarely appreciated my father until it was too late, and his mind had begun to fail. I didn't recognize how special each of my close friends were until I'd lost one of them to cancer and leukemia. I didn't recognize how rare true love is until I had my heart soundly broken by someone I loved greatly. I hope it won't take loss for my own children to value the people and relationships in their lives.

4) It would be blessed if my children could lead healthy lives into their wise old age. Despite whatever genetic gifts I may have given them, in the way of genes predisposing them to autoimmunity, I do not believe their futures need to be dictated at all by health struggles or worries. Modern medicine, Chinese medicine, a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and moderation in their consumption of toxins like alcohol, sugar and carbohydrates... lots of exercise... sleep & maintaining a peaceful inner state. I believe all of these things can afford my kids extremely long and productive lives. I pray that they are wise enough to take advantage of the blessings of living in the 2000s when so many things can be healed and prevented.

3) I hope my children will find faith. At the age of nearly 36 I am still struggling to find peace in my heart with any faith. There are things I love about Unitarianism, Buddhism, Judaism and Protestantism. I still do not have a spiritual home, or a heart in alignment with any particular principle. The one thing I believe in is Love. "God is Love", I tell my children, "and love is all around you." I hope that my children will grow with a deeper sense of trust than I have done, less skepticism, and less of an intellectual questioning of matters that cannot be understood merely by the brain.

2) May my children be accepting, tolerant, compassionate people who embrace the differences that separate them from other human beings. May they strive to find commonalities with strangers, rather than focusing on the things that hold them apart. May they make many unexpected friends in their lives, and may they BE true friends to all who know them.

1) Lastly, I hope my children will proceed throughout their lives understanding the incredible value of honesty, integrity and loyalty. If there is one thing their father and I share more than anything, it is our deep core belief in living a life around these principles. We are people of our word, people that would move heaven and earth not to let others down. I hope my children will live by the "Golden Rule" and feel their own motivation to make decent, respectable choices. An honest life lived with integrity and loyalty - and love!!! - is the best thing I could hope for my kids.

* * *

To my kids, when you inevitably read this someday:

I love you. Whether you ultimately share my private hopes for your lives or not, I support each of you 1,000,000%. The three of you have already made the most cherished dream of my life come true.

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