I could go on forever about how amazing my children are. I suppose all parents could. But I do not gush, rave or swoon or bloviate. Instead, I do what my father did. I compare my upbringing with theirs and gauge their “success” based on the metrics that applied to me.
Compassion, empathy, emotional intelligence? Check check check.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Yes, based on the listed criteria I care more about the quality of the person(s) that they have become over traditional metrics of College degrees, professional status, what rank they placed in their graduation class. I suppose those things are important but I’m a bit simpler on that front. In short, I evaluate people on the Asshole Scale. I am proud to say that I raised ZERO assholes. In that light, they accomplished everything I had hoped for them already.
Once it became clear to me that my marriage and family life was a fucked-up mess and not “normal” at all, it occurred to me that the example that I needed to set was to be reactionary to my worst fears as a parent. I feared, correctly, that I would not have the ability to send them to Ivy League schools. I knew that we were setting a terrible example of what a relationship is and should be. I knew that if I didn’t work at it my children would may hit the road at 18 and I would never see them except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. I never cheated, despite how bad and sexless my marriage was, because I wanted to have the respect of my children. The spectre of my ex telling my children that their father was a dishonest man terrified me and she was certainly capable of playing that card.
Well, jumping forward to the present, I couldn’t be more proud of the results. 4 smart, motivated and happy adults who are in monogamous and long-term relationships, solid careers and are just wonderful people all around.
I struggled an awful lot as a parent. My personal demons, lack of maturity at times, financial and marital issues haunted me and I always worried that these would negatively influence my children. Yet I now realize that I have wonderful relationships with them and, while part of me sort of wonders why, I have to just roll with it. Maybe it’s something I did, maybe it isn’t.
But it doesn’t change the outcome, my offspring are great people and I am beaming with pride and purpose because of them.