Friday, December 06, 2013

For Them

When I was a child, my life was perfect.  Well, almost.  There were the usual hiccups, as there are in any journey of becoming.  There were failed attempts and glorious victories.  There was homework and chores and pouting and punishment.  Years removed from those memories there are endless echoes and images of laughing and fighting and singing (a very great deal of singing) and crying and historical monuments and endless hours in the car and first and last days of school and recitals and all the necessary moments that make up the beginning of a life.  And in the midst of all the chaos and catastrophe and triumph there are two faces that remain constant and unchanging.  My parents.

My parents are not perfect.  But, they are great parents.  They were and continue to be invested in me and my siblings.  They made endless sacrifices for us.  They put their dreams and goals on hold so we could realize ours.  They fought for us and cried with us and they were always there.  My childhood overflows with memories of my parents because they were present.  Their presence dulls the painful memories and sharpens the pretty ones and makes my childhood seem perfect.  It didn't always go perfectly, but I know I was loved.  I felt loved and important and wanted and all the extras - the experiences, the stuff, the tangibles - would mean nothing if I hadn't.

I have been a parent now for nearly 8 years.  I love my children beyond description.  They amaze, challenge, mystify, and surprise me every single day.  They are funny and silly and smart and talented.  And we are the center of their world.  We are the constant in their lives.  We have thrust them into the universe of the expatriate without their permission or their input.  We made the decision to embrace this lifestyle long before they were on the Christmas card.  Even now, after they have swelled our ranks, we make plans every day that include them despite not really involving them in the decisions.  We consider their needs and their happiness.  We are always thinking prospectively and doing the math so hopefully no one will have to move their junior year of high school or get shortchanged or overlooked.  We pack their bags and take their pictures and save their ticket stubs and art work and birthday cards and shove everything into suitcases and shipping crates and overhead compartments and we do it over and over and over again.  And they acquiesce.  Because we're the parents and we know what we're doing.

And, what are we doing?  I hope we are introducing them to the joy of living.  I hope we are teaching them that the world is a magical place.  That whatever is beyond the horizon is worth seeking.  That life is about living, not marking time or waiting for whatever is supposed to happen next.  That learning languages is a worthwhile pursuit and making new friends an invaluable skill.  That sacrifice brings happiness.  That family is the most important treasure you will ever possess and home is wherever we are.  I hope we are teaching them to be resilient and strong and brave and compassionate.  I hope they are learning to find purpose in everything and to savor each moment of their journey.

I want to give them the gift of a "perfect" past.  I hope they will look back on their childhoods, many years removed, and think their lives were perfect.  I hope we will dominate their memories and they will remember that we were present, always.  Because we are trying to be just that.  We are trying to be for them what our parents were for us.  We are trying to ensure they feel loved and wanted and important, because they are.  I hope, above all else, they will know that we did what we did, we do what we do, even when it is more imperfect than perfect, for our family, for us, for them.

Valentine's Day 2013 in Beijing

4 comments:

Cassidy said...

I love this post, and I love you. I aspire to have such a deliberate approach to parenting. You are fabulous, my friend.

The Doughnuts said...

I concur - an inspiring and lovely post. Thanks for sharing!

K. Crisler said...

Glad your blogging again! Love this post. You are such a talented writer.

robin marie said...

That was beautiful!

 

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