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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Pride On Father's Day

If your experience matches mine, every parent you've ever met thinks they did a good (or great) job with their children. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary - i.e. the legions of walking wounded - if we are to believe what others claim, then average, below average, or failing parents do not exist. To some parents, even suggesting we've all made mistakes with our children - sometimes serious ones - is insulting or worse. 

My only child was fourteen when I read Mitch Albom's bestseller The Five People You Meet in Heaven soon after its publication in 2003. How am I so sure about when I read it? Because finishing that slim volume marked a clear end in a battle I'd waged with myself from the time my beloved daughter was born. Imbedded in Albom's sentimental tale is an elegant metaphor about damage all parents do - whether they admit it or not -  to children. A parent can fog their children's glass, break that glass, shatter that glass; no child escapes unscathed. Before reading Albom's formulation, I'd struggled almost daily with mistakes already made. That metaphor released me. Almost immediately, I became less concerned about mistakes of the past and envisioned a way to forgive myself for future mistakes I would surely make. It's hard to overstate how liberating that was for me. 

I've surely fogged my daughter's glass more times than I can count. But on every Father's Day since 2003, it's been easier for me to let go of how great, good, average or worse a parent I've been. And that's because I am certain my daughter's glass has never been broken or shattered via my missteps. Any damage I've done can be more easily mitigated than damage inflicted via a break or a shattering. She can take a rag and wipe that fog away - including the thicker parts of it - even when it takes effort to do so. I've done right by her, just as my Father did by me. I can be proud of that.  

  

4 comments:

  1. This is very true, dad. And you're only foggy sometimes.

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    1. A; Thanks sweetie. For this matter, you're the one whose opinion most matters to me.

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  2. Good afternoon, Pat. Timely post and one that certainly hits home. As has been said more often that I can recall, there is no manual given when you become a parent. I always found that to be a little funny since things are usually different from parent to parent, from child to child, and from place to place. How big of a manual would that have to be to be all inclusive.
    As you have said, I know I've 'fogged' the glass of both of my children. But I do take a great amount of comfort in seeing how their lives are now. In their 30's, married to terrific spouses and have children. Of course, not everything is perfect all the time. But what is? I am so very fortunate to have wonderful relationships with both of them - and due to some changes in the past that wasn't always a guarantee. I can honestly say that I am proud of the parenting that I've done. But that is mostly because of the pride I have in each of them. They're good people. And there is a lot of love there. That's always a good thing.
    Be well ... And, by the way, I love the added comments from your daughter. Given the opportunity, I know both of my children would say similar things about me - lol.
    Bob

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    1. Hey Bob; Thanks for comment and sharing more of your story with me. Comforting to know of another parent who will acknowledge the "fogging" they might have caused. When I shared that metaphor and my own shortcomings as a parent at a book club meeting a few years back I ended up embarrassing myself by being honest and vulnerable. Most (almost all) of the others present at that meeting claimed they'd done "no" damage as parents and couldn't see themselves in that metaphor at all. Not a great moment for me; oh well.

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