I remember my mother once telling me, “Life is hard. The sooner you understand that, the less disappointed you’ll be.” My mother is a woman of profound wisdom and I often think of her and the things she would tell me as I try and prepare my children for the world.
There are few things you can do to protect your children from the harshness of life. As a parent, we instinctively want to shield our children from sadness, fear, anger and all things that would harm them, both emotionally and physically. Unfortunately, it can’t always be done and accepting that as mother or father, is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
Watching my children hurt, because of nothing they’ve done, but because of the actions of others is gut-wrenching. You feel helpless because there is truly nothing you can do. It’s beyond your control. Teaching them to accept that they can’t control others and their actions, that they can only control their own, is so very difficult- but essential. It’s hard to take the high road, to turn the other cheek, or to even pity and pray for those whose lives are so sad and unfortunate they must hurt others.
I can’t always protect my children from what others may say or do, but I try very hard to provide them with a loving, stable home. In that home, my husband and I count our blessings every single day and pass each one along to all four of our children. We surround them with family and friends who love us unconditionally; who would do anything for any one of us.
My husband and I try and teach our children that life is filled with sadness, grief, and hardship, but it’s also filled with happiness, love, and hope. We are always explaining that life is all about choices, our choices, and that sometimes our choices can have direr consequences. We also teach our children to be responsible for their actions and to understand that the world is not the scapegoat for their problems. It’s very easy to blame others when we’re down and out. And it’s always okay to feel a little sorry for ourselves, but it’s more important to move on and find a solution. One thing I’ve always impressed upon them is to never wallow in their own self-pity. Helen Keller once said, “Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.”
So although I cannot protect them from the evils that have and will come their way, I hope I can prepare them for how to deal with those bad days. I hope they learn how to not only survive life, but to thrive; to live each beautiful day to the fullest. I hope they learn how to embrace heartache, sadness, and their mistakes and most importantly, learn from all of it. I hope that they are strong enough to know it’s okay to cry and feel bad, but to get up, dust it off and keep going. I hope that my children always know that they are loved, deeply and by many.
I will hug and kiss my children. I will tell them how much I love them. I will buffer all that I can…and pray for the strength to endure their heartache each time I can’t.