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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Glass More Than Half Full

I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that from the day she was born, my daughter has been one of my favorite topics of conversation.

As her young adult years pass, what I occasionally find myself fantasizing - at least when conversing with other parents - is being allowed a "do-over". To be clear: I'm certain how well I did as a Father. After all, unlike many people I've encountered, I myself had excellent parents. I can't recall a single instance when I ever felt unloved or uncared for. I'm sure my daughter feels the same way.

But just as no marriage is perfect, no parent does a perfect job raising their children. I have long found solace in a metaphor Mitch Albom used in "The Five People You Meet In Heaven", which I read on its 2003 release; the timing could not have been better - my daughter was thirteen.

In "The Five People ..." Albom analogizes the inescapable damage people inflict on their children to a pane of glass. As parents we routinely either fog, break, or shatter that glass. Without exception, when I describe to someone my sincere belief that any harm I've done to my daughter has been of the fogging variety - the kind able to be addressed via gently wiping the glass - I become very emotional. And many people with whom I share this metaphor - parent or not - are touched in a similar fashion. More than a few times, others have shared powerful and revealing family of origin stories with me - for better or worse - soon after we discuss Albom's wisdom.

I've long reflected on the source of my emotional content and the tendency I and others have to be so vulnerable when discussing these things. After my most recent conversation citing Albom's metaphor, I landed on two insights. First, his analogy assists me to forgive myself for the minor, if inevitable, harm I've inflicted. Second, I'm grateful beyond measure for emerging into my young adult life with fogged - instead of broken or shattered - glass. What has been the source of your richest learning about being parented or being a parent?

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