What I always want to remember as a parent
“We are all just one phone call away from living a totally different life,” said Kelly Corrigan at a speaking event I went to last week (you might remember that I recommended The Middle Place a couple years ago and her newest book is an equally good read called Lift).
Too often, those phone calls are tragic. They bear news of children or parents lost too young or cancer or some other unthinkable tragedy. But when Kelly said those words, my mind went instead to the phone call that we received that changed our lives just two summers ago. The phone call that let us know—though we had only decided a few weeks before that we were ready to start a family but by ready to start a family, we meant after we traveled to Italy and Alaska and renovated the little cottage that could (so ready to start a family in 2010, we thought)— there was a baby boy in Africa who was the son we were waiting for. He was born just weeks before, perhaps even the same day that we were walking on the beach saying, “alright, let’s go for it.” And since that phone call, every decision we have made has been with Happy and his needs in mind.
Corrigan talked a good deal about parenthood during her visit and much of it reminded me of basic tenets I want to hold both true and at the forefront of my mind as I parent the irrepressible boy that Happy is. She talked about how when she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, she called her parents and she knew that they would come because that’s what parents do. May I always be a parent who comes.
She said “what a bold and dangerous thing it is to love a child.” May I always remember the gift, the opportunity that I have been given — chosen, at what might seem like random but what I know was inspired– to parent Happy.
And though we can’t “live at altitude,” as Kelly said, that space above our grounded Earthen existence that lets us always keep things in perspective, may I always remember that my job as a parent is to give Happy a “run at happiness.” He’s there now, yes, but may BF and I always do the hard work to help him make the choices that will keep him there and do the emotional work that will help him process difficult experience and climb out of it with a gift and not just a wound.