Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sneak Preview of an upcoming book...

To Meagan and Linley.

May the legacy you leave be salt and light for those you love.

A few years ago I reflected on the significance of my daughter Meagan reaching her sixteenth birthday. I thought of the milestones she had achieved in her short lifetime by then, and of my pride and heart pains as each milestone achieved signaled her coming of age and decreasing dependence on me. Those years ago I wanted to impart to her all the reassurances, warnings and bits of advice I hoped she would consider, not only when alone behind the wheel, but as she continued to mature into her own person, making plans and decisions without the necessity of sage parental consent.

As most parents do in the span of time beginning with a child receiving a driving license and ending with graduating from high school, I realized I still had much to teach my daughter before she left home and set out on her own. In that span of time I took every opportunity to teach or remind her of an important life lesson. We discussed the perils of misusing a credit card, the wisdom of understanding your health insurance before going to the doctor, and the details of entering into a lease agreement, securing utilities, registering to vote and much, much more.

The day our family drove away and left Meagan standing alone in the center of her college dorm room, I was confident she was prepared for the independence granted her that day. That evening, however, when I passed by her empty bedroom, I wondered if I had indeed adequately equipped her with all that she needed to know to succeed living on her own, without a parent near her side to rescue her should the sudden need arise. I thought too about the youngest in our household, Linley, who then was within a year of receiving her learner’s permit, and who was yet to receive all the warnings, teachings and fear-driven prayers that had been extended to her older step-sister.

It is a worry all parents experience, I suppose, wondering if their children are ready to face the challenges a milestone presents when the time comes, be it at sixteen, eighteen or twenty-something. It is probably also a frustration every child experiences, wishing their parents would worry less and trust more, wishing their parents would have faith in their own parenting skills and believe their child is ready and able to handle what may come. It is a lesson both girls have gone to great lengths to teach me - that while parenting does indeed mean coming alongside and helping your child, but equally means stepping away in the right moments to give the freedom and room for growth. It was difficult knowledge for me to accept, but wisdom I am grateful for today.

As I write this, two milestones, one for each girl, are fast approaching, even arriving somewhat sooner than expected. Through their own determined efforts, Linley is graduating high school a year early and is eager to leave home to attend college, and Meagan is finishing college early, eager to begin her career and graduate school. So once again, I reflect on the significance of children graduating and going solo…

…and I put my concerns aside, having faith in our prayers and our teachings, and in the girls’ own natural resources and abilities. I smile at their bold confidence and assured willfulness, marvel at their expanding, brilliant minds, take pride in their growing list of achievements, and stand amazed how each in her own way has surpassed my hopes and dreams of how she would turn out.

And yet, I remain a parent with the impulse to make sure my children are safe, happy and destined to prosper. So even though, given the chance, they might have convinced me it was an unnecessary exercise, I penned this book. I wrote it to capture just one more round of fatherly advice and simple suggestions for living a fulfilled life, and I wrote it as a remedy for when they might be perplexed, in need of a reassuring cajole, and far away from home. And I wrote this book to remind them of the love their mothers and I have for them.

Yes, I remain a parent, no matter how old and how accomplished the girls might be. And as a parent, I will also, always, I’m sure, remain proud of what they do and who they become in their journey. I can’t wait to watch them get there.

1 comment:

Ginny said...

I could just cry...your words tug at this mom's heart. Thanks for writing...