A Note

Dear Parents:

This note that I send you is something that comes from both, my experience as a son and as a dad. This comes from a person who has seen both sides of the good and bad. Not unlike anyone else, this note comes from a person who understands mistakes, misgivings, apprehensions, anger and frustration. I am no guru or professional but more so, I am humble and real. 

I am not sure if you are new to the job or if you are about to re-up on your role as a parent with your second or third child or even more. Either way, we all have our own system. We all have our own way with words and of course, we all have our own intuitions and perceptions of truth.
However, throughout our differences are the universal attributes that come with parenthood. There are both typical and unique inspirations that come with this job. Either way, I offer this note as a source of hope. With all humility, I offer this as a semblance of guidance with hopes that this offering finds you well and with the best intention.

There are four words that I would like to offer. The four words have the ability to solve pain, heal wounds and clear the emotional bruises that come with the ups and downs of daily life.
The four words are more than the standard. The words are more than saying “I love you,” which are powerful too. The four words are, “I’m proud of you.”

I would like you to pause here for a second. I want you to think about these words. And as you think of these words, I would like you to close your eyes. Imagine these words being said to you by the most influential person in your life. I want you to imagine hearing the words “I’m proud of you” from the voice of the most meaningful person in your life.
While you think of this, imagine them. Imagine the look on their face. See their expression; heartfelt as ever. Think about this and the wealth that comes from the heart. Imagine these words are said to you when you need to hear them the most. Close your eyes and see this. Feel it. 

These words have the ability to rebuild the pieces of broken dreams. These words inspire. They build, protect, encourage, and above all, these words empower.

“I’m proud of you.”

Take a pause for a second. Take a deep breath if you need to. Take a second and when you’re ready – we can go back to my little note.
Are you ready?

There are times when the world is not so kind. There are times when we are frustrated. There are times when we raise our voice and there are times when we are blinded by a short-tempered experience. By the way, there’s a word for this. There’s a diagnosis for this too.
Are you ready to hear it?
The diagnosis is simple. It’s called “Normal.”

Life does not pause for anyone. Life does not care if the mortgage is paid on time, if rent is due, or if there’s food in the fridge. Life just moves; and it moves pretty fast too.
In fact, most times, life moves much faster than we think. Sure enough, a day goes by and then a week. Next a month goes by and then a year or maybe two and after that; we find ourselves so distant from the truth. We find ourselves distant from the past. We are distant from each other and we find ourselves wondering, “When was it?”
When was the last time we heard the words, “I’m proud of you” from the most powerful voice in our lives?
When was the last time we said this to our child? When was the last time we remembered to leave nothing up to interpretation and be clear with our words to say, “I love you and I’m proud?”

As a boy, I was not unloved by any means. However, there were times when I needed reassurance. There were times when I needed words of encouragement. I needed support. I needed help only I lacked the tongue or the words to ask for the things I needed. 

I gave in to my intimidations. I gave into my fears. I gave into my ideas that I was burdensome. All I really needed was the right words said to me by the right person. All I needed was a spark. I needed to hear, “I’m proud of you, son.”
I needed to hear the words, “It’s okay. I’m right here behind you.”
“Don’t worry. We can figure this out together.”
“You’re not alone!”

As a man who lost his Father at a young age and as a person who struggled with emotional challenges and difficulties, words like this would have meant the world to me.
So . . .
Leave nothing up to judgment. Take nothing for granted. Understand that thoughts are thoughts and nobody reads minds.
Please know that a word that goes unsaid is always going to be missing. I can say this as a witness. I can say this as a parent. I can say this as a person and as a human in this world whose had to reckon with my past.
I am offering you this note as a suggestion of mindfulness. So, be mindful.  Be understanding that not everything is understood. Not everything is simply given. 

Know that reassurance is the phosphorus and the potassium for the roots of our love. Know that encouragement and validation is the plasma to the blood of our life.
Know that there are times to challenge and times to support. There are times to be tough and times to be delicate; but above all and through it all, there is always time to ensure love, ensure our support and there is always time to let someone know, “I’m proud of you.”

As a person who has had a struggle with parenthood and as someone who’s been on both the bad and good side of fatherhood, there are times when our children are filled with doubt. There are times when our kids are burdened with the idea that something about them is wrong.
There are times when our kids are frustrated. And what do we do?
We tell them don’t worry. We say we know all about it and that we’ve been there before. But no. We haven’t. We are entirely different people. We lived in entirely different times with different cultures and subcultures. 

Sometimes, our kids don’t want us to answer for them.
Sometimes, our kids only want us to listen.
Or, maybe not.
Maybe our kids think similarly to when we were kids and the same as we thought our parents couldn’t understand, our kids think we could never understand. 

There has to be a way to bridge the gap. We have to look for this. We have to understand when to lean in and when to lean back. We have to learn when to speak and when to listen.
And another thing, forget that “I know best,” thing because we don’t always know the answer. We might have better ideas. We might have better strategies. But to our kids, we’re not human. We are not people. To them, we are parents. And what do parents know?

On the day my Father passed, I was at his bedside and broken. I knew there were going to be things that were left unsaid and situations that would go unresolved (at least, to some degree). But had I not heard a certain four words; had I not had the chance to speak to my Father before he slipped away; I would have never known that he was proud of me and that he loved me.
Had we never had our final talk, these things would have gone unsaid.
Could you imagine the pain that this would have left behind?

Leave nothing unsaid.
Leave nothing to judgment.
Let them know where your heart is and should there be times of difficulty; or if there are days when you’re frustrated or angry, let your kids know the reason for this is because you are only human.
Tell them why you struggle. Let them know it’s okay to talk about their fears or their insecurity. Let them know that there is strength that comes from within. Tell them that there’s literally a light inside of us and when we feed this light, darkness can never prevail.

No matter what.

Dear Pop,

It’s been a long time. It would be nice to hear from you.
Just a sign. That’s all.
Tell Mom that I’m doing well. I’m paying attention and playing well with others.
Let her know that I miss her.
I miss you too, by the way.
I know that you know this but again, I don’t want to leave anything unsaid.

Know what I mean?
Love always

Your son

2 thoughts on “A Note

  1. Pingback: A Note – A wanderer!!

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