My daughter Natalie had her dance recital this past weekend. This was her third year taking part in the large recital put on by all the participants of Miss Jane’s Class, and she was simply spectacular. And given that this was her third year participating, she received a trophy at the recital. As she stood on stage, trophy in hand, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride. It was as if my chest were going to explode. And at that moment, all the time, effort, cost and frustration that go along with being a parent just faded into nonexistence. It was all worth it. It IS all worth it.
This got me thinking about how much we, as parents, do for our kids. It’s been said that part of being a parent is making sacrifices, both big and small, for your kids. I think that is true. More importantly, however, is making sure your kids are not aware of these sacrifices. It’s not that you don’t want them to appreciate your efforts, but rather you don’t want them to grow up with a sense of guilt because of the things we give up for them.
I think the day-to-day sacrifices are almost not worth mentioning. Missing a ballgame to attend a recital. Not going out with the fellas because of a birthday party. Having to drive across town to pick up the 2 or 3 friends that are coming over to ruin your quiet time with a sleepover. I am smirking as I write this because all these ‘tasks’ are what make up the adventure that is parenting. They should be enjoyed because you do them not for you, but for them.
There are times, however, when life throws you into a situation where the sacrifices are not so small. I am referring to the moments when we are asked to put dreams, aspirations, careers or any other thing of great importance in our lives aside for the sake of our kids. And the problem is that this does not happen all the time, which makes dealing with such a decision so difficult. How much money is enough money to uproot your kids and move to a new city? How do you weigh the job of a lifetime versus the comfort zone of your children? How do you forego a shot at complete happiness and fulfillment so that you can ensure happiness and fulfillment for your child?
Like so many things in life, it’s situational and there are no absolutes. Each individual handles these matters differently, and what works for one does not necessarily work for another. I think the goal is to understand that as internally painful as it may be to make such a sacrifice, there is a consequence that serves the greater good that is a child …. your child.
It’s incredibly difficult to find that balance between putting yourself or your kids first, and I think this is one of the greatest challenges of being a parent. And it’s made harder by the fact there is no scorecard, and the end result may not be known for years and years to come. It’s about having faith in doing the right thing, and being happy in the knowledge that you are doing the right thing.
Kristin, I am not sure if you will ever read this, but you should consider yourself extremely lucky to have a mother as wonderful as the one you have. I hope and pray you grow up with nothing but appreciation, fondness and love for both your parents and everything they have done, and will continue to do, for you. And remember, the best way to repay them for their love and sacrifice is to grow up happy, pursue your dreams with reckless abandon, and make them proud in all that you are and all that you do.