All of my life, like many others, I have been chasing one dream after another. Each goal being a single step closer to that ultimate reality of success -- that feeling of finally making it. And yet, after each goal is realized, it's never enough. More is needed. More is desired. More power is wanted. More money. More respect. More. More. More.
Recently, I began reading, "The Gift of an Ordinary Day," by Katrina Kenison. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to keep reading it as it's mostly about raising adolescents and teenagers and considering that my daughters are only now starting school, I didn't think it would be relevant to my life. Only a few pages in, however, I did start to see some of the issues we'll have to encounter years from now and that the book, really, is almost a glimpse into the future. Kenison talks a great deal in the first couple chapters about success and what we expect that to mean for our children. Is getting the best grades on test what it means to be successful? I'm not sure, yet, as I know we have a lot to learn yet but I know for sure that I wasn't the best test taker. My grades were often low. I was easily distracted by more important things like being with my girlfriends and cheerleading and any other social event around. Perhaps I needed that since I was an only child and social interaction was lacking in my life at home.
By reading this book now, I'm given a great opportunity to set the stage for my girls, and the way they shape what being successful is about. It's not about having the most money but having enough money to enjoy life. It's not about climbing the corporate ladder but knowing how to balance doing a great job at work and having enough time to enjoy this One Great Life that we've been given. It's not about rising to the top, it's about feeling really good about where you are at any given moment -- like right now.
So will I stress when one of my girls gets a low grade or gets into trouble for having a little fun? I can't say for sure but what I do know is that they will be just fine no matter what and they haven't even started school. They will be just fine. I know this because they are happy, healthy children who like to know about the world around them and ask questions. If they grow up to be seekers and explorers who love to learn new things, I think that's pretty much perfection. If they grow up to be happy adults with lots of girlfriends around them, that's pretty ideal. If they grow up to travel the world and try new things, that's pretty fantastic. If they grow up to know what they like and do not like and aren't afraid to admit those details to anyone that's pretty wonderful. If they grow up and can speak their mind and not feel fear, that's pretty damn good. If they are passionate and kind -- oh so very kind -- that's pretty much all I can ask. If they grow up to have any of these traits, that's success to me.
They willl certainly have their own ideas about what it means to be successful and that's OK, too. We may differ on a few points and I will have to respect their choices and opinions. We, as their parents, have a big job to prepare them for the future that awaits them. I don't think a few dozen Straight As is the answer, though that certainly does help get one into college.
It feels good to think about what success is as I am struggling with that definition myself. It feels good for their sake and my own -- someone who has pretty high expectations of herself and what it means to be successful. I've come a long way to learn all of these great things about life and what it means to fully live, authentically, without fear and worry. Well, a little bit anyway. I still live with a little fear and worry, especially now, but particuarly right now it's timely to consider what we really need in life. Is it more money? Is it the best job? Or is it a happy family life and a happy household. Is it doing fun things and enjoying life to the fullest before we die? I think so. I really honestly think so. It's not going to be easy to pass this message along to our daughters, who already have pressures in their minds about things like the way their hair should be or what outfit to wear.
It's not going to be easy raising two very different girls to live authentically.
But I think I'm up for the challenge.
Photo Credit: Elma