Graduation Marks New Beginning

This week my daughter, along with nearly 3.5 million other students, will graduate from high school in the United States.

Think about that number for a minute…this is the equivalent of graduating the entire population in city of Los Angles (3.8 million), the second largest city in the United States. While we might consider this as rite of passage of sorts, this is one of the single most amazing accomplishments we as a nation complete each year. We as a society literally birth – of push – another city of people out into the world.

These days sitting down with my daughter for a conversation is like trying to catch a hummingbird in a flower garden. Life is opening up around her and she is trying to reach out, touch, and absorb it all. And if we are honest, so did most of us at her age.

That said, I want to share a few thoughts that – if she ever sits down one day in the future to read this – she’ll understand why we as parents universally care so much for them.

First of all, understand we’ve been there. I know, we may not act like it or look like your friends, but odds are we did many of the very same things or faced the similar situations. Just because we have mortgages and 401K plans does not mean we’re robots – we made choices along the way. And believe it or not, we made lots of mistakes.

We want you to succeed. We also understand we need to let you make mistakes. What we pray is your mistakes will be those you can pick yourself up, dust off the dirt, and move on. We’ve all seen others in our lives make mistakes that changed their lives in a bad way – and they never rebounded. So please understand we’re not interested in being in your business all the time – parental love just has a way of making you care in ways you’ve not yet learned.

Remember, you were born with a clean slate and good name. Your reputation will eventually precede you in life – not the other way around. Making every decision you face with this in mind will help navigate life during cloudy or uncertain times. Trust your gut – your head and heart can easily be misled in life.

In the end, remember, we as parents love you unconditionally. No matter what anyone else tells you, remember we’ll always be here to support and help you through life. But also remember, this rule does not apply to money. One is pure while the other is just a tool we all need to get through life. From experience we know there is no such thing as too much love. On the, other hand we’ve all seen how too much money can damage you and your drive at this point in your life.

So as you and the 3.5 million others join step into the adult world, remember there is no one in the world that cares for you more than your parents. We love you. Then rest of your life, however, is pretty much dependent on you and your cumulative decisions. Go make the most of life and remember to send us an occasional postcard.

 

– 30 –

Focus of Mother’s Day Evolves

 

I’m not sure when, but one day, Mother’s Day changed for me.

Like most of us, I love my mother with all my heart and will always consider her to be the driver of all things good instilled in my character. I will always be indebted to her. To this day I still thank her in prayers for her heart and guidance.

That said, today I see Mother’s Day from a different point of view – one that arrived quietly and somewhat unannounced.  Today Mother’s Day is all about my wife.

This year my wife and I are experiencing our youngest is packing her things for college. Our son, who left for college a few years ahead of her, is now firmly navigating his world.

The realization of all of this is finally setting in: my wife and I are pretty much at the end of our parenting window. Yes, there will be moments when they might need something – advice, a place to stay for a few days or even just a shoulder to lean on – but for all practical purposes, we’re done.

This only makes more in awe of what a mother really does and the front-row seat I’ve shared with her over the past couple decades. And if I believe our children are the outcome of her hard work and ever-giving heart (which I do), then she is the greatest mom I’ve ever known.

I see the world differently as an adult than I did as child. When I was a child I probably considered my mother just another part of the landscape – a constant that would always be there for me. I didn’t see or appreciate the singular dedication she gave to my brother and me. I didn’t see or appreciate how she always was there for us. I didn’t – that is until she was unexpectedly taken before her time.

But God gave me a do-over and connected me with someone who I’ve watched do the very same for our two children. In the years my wife has been a mother, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed her make a selfish decision when it came to her role as a mother. That said, I now see the side of the coin of parenting I didn’t as a child – the side of truly understanding what sacrifice really means.

I’m sure that the experiences I’ve witnessed as a husband and partner are not too unlike those repeated in homes as close as next door or as far as around the world. The Maternal Instinct is probably the single most amazing force woven into our DNA. There is simply no stronger force of love and dedication than from a mother to her children.

I’ve seen my wife give – without any reservation of ever complaining – the past couple decades of her life to rarely being beyond arm’s length of our children. No matter how she felt or what was going on in her world, she was there for them. She could have a fever and struggling to get through the day, but if a thunderstorm shook the house and little feet came racing down the hallway, she’d willingly invite the children underneath the safety of the covers.

In some ways I feel like a bystander who just watched the most amazing documentary of a mother’s love and sacrifice. But the good news is, I didn’t – I married her.

 

– 30 –

Finding the Sun on a Cloudy Day

 

I think we all go thorough cloudy days – or periods – in our lives. Windows of time where we feel out of kilter – the rain is a bit colder, the darkness bit more foreboding – leaving us feeling a bit more isolated and alone.

God didn’t plan for our lives to be a cakewalk. To think otherwise would be delusional on our part.

I hurt when I see others who are lost. Lost from a pathway to anywhere. Lost from connecting with others. Lost and without compass to help them find their way back.

Like most of us, if we are honest, we’ll admit we’ve suffered through periods in which we didn’t think the sun would ever break through the clouds around us – letting us once again feel the warmth on our shoulders and clearing our minds.

I guess I think of this as the parent of a pair of young adults – each on the cusp of life ready to unfold before them. This year, as our youngest turned the magical age of eighteen, both my wife and I knew we’d be increasingly standing on the shoreline, relegated to a spectator role, as she and her older brother navigate life and the challenges ahead.

If life has taught my wife anything it is that life is a balance. Good comes with bad. Highs are counterbalanced with lows. There will moments (or periods of time) in which you we couldn’t imagine anything better only to one day find the rude awaking of the other end of the pendulum. This formula, no matter how careful you attempt to control or manage your risk, is simply a non-negotiable force of life we must learn to accept.

The reach of this universal rule applies from relationships, careers, personal finance or even your self-confidence.

Once in a while my wife and look at each other and laugh at whatever point of this arch of life we are in at a particular point in time. Together for over three decades, we know there is a powerful ebb and flow we really don’t control. Yes, we can control the severity or frequency of certain events, but for the most part we understand life is eventful for a reason.

But knowing the clouds will pass is an important key to getting through life.

We will not – nor will our children, friends or other loved ones – get through life without cuts and bruises. But we can, by recognizing these moments are temporary and just a necessary part of life, minimize the long-term effects they play on us.

My mother, just when everything was hitting the proverbial fan, would always take a deep breath and say “and this too will pass.” Sometimes she’d say it with a laugh — other times with a heavy heart — but she understood the universal balance. 

But no matter what was going on, she could reach down and find perspective and comfort in knowing everything in life his temporary and, if you keep your head, the moment will pass.

So when I find myself in a particular cycle of clouds – or a period of time where I just can’t seem to see my way through a situation – I simply think back to the words of my mother and how she’d help shoo away the clouds in life and focus on the sunny days just around the corner. 

 

– 30 –