If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much. – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
I was given wonderful life tip from my friend and mentor, Yves Doucet. He had told me that writing my obituary would help me identify what it is that I want to be remembered for and that, is my purpose. Knowing this will help narrow down what goals I should be focusing on and what actions I should be spending my energy on. How can I aim for greatness if I have no real target? So, I set out to write my obituary. Pretty morbid stuff but it became a very eye opening exercise. It was certainly much easier said than done. I scoured my future life for thoughts of what I would want left behind when my expiry date comes to pass. I came up with “tirelessly worked as a loyal volunteer” and “was an advocate in the prevention of childhood trauma” and “in later life, became an accomplished author”. I realized after, that I had only left myself the footnote “he was a dedicated father and husband”.
A couple of weeks ago my wife had visited my son’s teacher at his school for the usual parent-teacher meeting. The teacher had told my wife that our son is very thoughtful and caring. Let me preface this quick story by stating that after many repeated reminders from us that he didn’t have to load up his book bag with all his hardcover Minecraft books, he simply ignored our advice. Every other day he would lug these books to school. Well, it turns out he had been lending his books to another kid in his class. This other kid (for whatever reason) did not have or could not get any Minecraft books for himself. All along my son had been lending his books to him so that he could read them during their daily reading period. I was simply amazed at this gesture. He never once told us what his motives were, he just wanted to share.
This story reminded me of the vow that I had made to myself when my son was born. I was going to make it my life’s mission to ensure he would grow up to be a respected, open minded and hard working person. Everyday I would dedicate myself to ensure that his environment would be safe, peaceful, challenging and I would positively support his physical and mental well being. Yet, in the fast-paced and self-centered world we live in, I had somehow gotten off track from that goal. While I was reflecting on this, I had surprisingly found the source of my biggest anxieties: I had forgotten who I am and who I want to be and ultimately, who I want to be known for. Here I was attempting to be someone I am not. No wonder I was battling confidence issues! I had lost sight of my mission. I got caught up in unrealistic career goals, self-centered personal growth and other exterior commitments that I had lost sight of my life’s deepest passion.
Don’t get me wrong, being a committed co-worker, friend and community volunteer is very important, but those exterior objectives should never get in the way of my true passion. I want my legacy to be the person I had spent my life diligently raising. While anyone can be a parent, It takes real passion and relentless dedication to be a great one. I had been given the greatest challenge and opportunity to raise that little human up and I will live up to that challenge. I may get many opportunities at a great career or solve one of life’s greatest mysteries but I have only one chance at raising my son. There is no redo.
So as I set out to define my 2016 objectives, the direction of my goals have been made much easier; my resolve ever so strong. I will ensure that I become a healthier, wiser and more present father to take on the next task in raising one piece of the next generation puzzle. I may never be considered for a promotion in my career or gain notoriety for any great feat; but If I were to die today (aside from being disappointed that I couldn’t continue on), I would die at peace knowing that my son is on the right path to greatness and that is what I would want to be remembered for.