My dad sent me a really touching and loving email last night. He’d read my blog yesterday about bliss and sent some really wonderful words of encouragement.
He mentioned that both he and my mom had given up moments of their own bliss so that they could take my sister and I to our various activities – riding being by far the most expensive and time consuming of all (he didn’t mention the expensive part, but those hay burners don’t come cheap). How they too had struggled to find a balance of meeting their personal needs and bliss and giving what they wanted to my sister and I so we could have the kind of childhood they wanted for us.
I hope I’ve not been a whiney parent to my kids about not doing “me” things and doing “them” things because I actually really do enjoy going and watching or participating in their activities. I have the luxury of saying that because Jacob does Karate which is an inside activity and has little equipment to take along and Jenna does softball which they cancel if it’s raining out. No hockey mom here!
That said, if my parents complained about lugging my sister and I around I don’t remember much of it. I remember stressed out people rushing to *get* to an activity, but I don’t remember grousing about being *at* said activity. Imagine my shock when I discovered later on in life that we didn’t do Pony Club because it was some dream my parents were fulfilling. In my defense, probably 90% of the kids in Pony Club were there because it actually was the dream of their parents to be doing it, so I can understand why I was confused.
I do remember one fateful show where Pirate decided to stop at a coffin jump and sent me smashing into the poles only to land right in the coffin. I laid in there for a while wondering if they would just fill it in and be done with me and finally managed to get back up and get back on and finish. After I looked around for my dad and couldn’t find him anywhere. After further searching found him in the back of the Jeep having a snooze. As only an irritable 14 year old can do I gave him a piece of my mind. Something along the lines of what kind of person sleeps while their kid is out on the course getting injured??? Indignant little snot I was (in my defense I had hurt myself really badly and was more than a little shook up – but still… snotty).
I have thought of that moment many times now that I’m a parent and hear my kids say “Mom says she’s watching us, she’s just watching from behind her eyelids.” Because at 14 I had no idea just how freaking tired a person could be.
But, the point of this is that these people gave up moments in their lives where they could have been searching out what made *them* happy and spent hours and hours doing things that made *me* happy. Perhaps not in the right balance of them/me (in that they didn’t have enough *them*) but as I’m struggling now they struggled then with that balance. Because of their gift to me I was able to find something that gave me peace, balance and bliss. They have searched their souls and found things now that bring some balance and bliss to their lives. But, I know that they are much different things than they would have chosen 40 years ago to follow.
Reading and then reflecting on my dad’s email confirmed two things for me. 1 – that following my bliss at the expense of those that I love would leave both me and them feeling empty and unfulfilled. 2 – not following my bliss at all would leave me feeling empty and unfulfilled and also not let me be a good example to my children of how to follow my dreams. Somewhere in those two seemingly polar opposite positions has to be one tiny spot of perfect balance.
My parents paved my road to bliss with their love and it’s a gift I sincerely hope I’m passing on to my kids. The gift of love.