The creation of this blog was founded on overcoming fear and vulnerability. I think every parent out there would agree that the greatest fear of all concerns our children. We fear failing them, not being able to protect them, or God forbid, losing them. My husband and I walked the very painful path of having to bury a child. We lost our daughter, Gabrielle, shortly after birth. She was born three months too early and her lungs were simply not strong enough to breathe on their own. We were young. We were helpless. We could not understand how losing a child was possible and sat numb in a cold hospital bed listening as the nurses told us we would not be going home with our first born.
Losing Gabrielle was without a doubt the most difficult and painful trial my husband and I have endured. There are no words to describe the heartache that followed. In hindsight however, it was beautiful and perfect and left us with a powerful gift. We were blessed with two beautiful healthy children afterwards and we knew not to take a moment with them for granted. Our short moments with Gabrielle taught us how precious life is and gave us awareness to making the most of every moment. It helped us understand that our children truly are not our children but on loan from God and that every second we have with them is a gift. We see them for the miracles they are and we are deeply grateful.
This awareness allows us to appreciate every moment with our children, but it certainly didn’t prepare us for parenthood. My husband and I often joke that we will hand our children a book of all the things we did wrong as parents at graduation to save them thousands on therapy bills. Perhaps a good title would be 1,001 Plus Ways We Goofed. Remember when we didn’t let you stay up late? No worries, it’s in the book. And all of those violent video games we wouldn’t let you play or movies we wouldn’t let you watch, that’s in the book too. Oh, and all the sugar we didn’t let you have, that’s in there. Most recently both my children rallied forces to convince me that bringing them to workouts five days a week was cruel and unusual punishment and that we should compromise on a three day a week workout. That will be its very own chapter. And the more we talk to other parents, the more we question our job performance and ourselves.
Yes, our book may be volumes by the time graduation comes around. But recently, something made me question giving our book a different focus. I was completely taken aback when I learned my children had made the front page of a local paper. I wasn’t with them when the photograph was taken or when they were interviewed. When my son casually mentioned he and his sister spoke to a reporter, I had no idea it was for front-page material. The picture and article highlighted how they were making and selling bracelets to build a school in Africa. A friend mentioned how moving it was to have an eleven-year-old boy so passionate about helping others across the world and went out of her way to help him on his mission. I think that’s when it hit me.
Forget the book of how we are getting it wrong. It’s time to focus on what we’re getting right. When I see my children get excited about serving others, I know we are doing something right. When we are at the mall together and witness a group of teenagers purposely knock down a sign and walk away and then watch my children run over to fix it, I know we are doing something right. When my son reminded me of the importance of faith when mine waivered and his faith proved my doubts wrong, I knew we did something right. When I see them become love in action, I know somewhere along the line, we did something right.
On their graduation day, we probably will have volumes filled on the ways we goofed. And I will most likely take that and show it to them for a second and then toss them aside before handing them the small coffee-stained paperback of what we did right. Because all of those volumes of ways we didn’t live up to being the perfect parents are insignificant if my kiddos live passion-filled lives grounded in love and faith. Those moments of love, compassion, gratitude, faith, service, dedication, hard work, and perseverance are the ones I want them to focus on and remember. Because life is precious and unpredictable and when we open our eyes to what we are getting right and truly see the miracles before us, it is joy-filled, beautiful and perfect. When we can hold on to that, when we can be that for others and ourselves even and especially in the heart-wrenching and painful moments life may throw at us, we open ourselves up to receive amazing grace-filled gifts. When we can give love and be love and inspire others to do the same, we know we are getting it right. Fear dissipates leaving a heart full of joy and gratitude and a realization that all is beautiful and perfect and that’s about as right as it gets.