My daughter, The Coed, is in North Dakota this summer, working as a camp counselor at a God camp. It’s an awesome opportunity for her, but it’s the first time she’s been verrrrrrry far away for so long (she left for camp in early May). There is no stopping by to pick up a few things, no showing up at my desk for a surprise hello when she’s on campus, no coming home for Sunday, Bloody Sunday (our standing end-of-weekend family dinner of steaks on the grill). Instead, we get an occasional text message or facebook update which is about all she can manage due to the time zones and schedules. On Sunday, however, I managed to grab the early morning phone call and had a wonderful conversation with her before she went off to KP duty. And you know what I got an earful of? Happiness and laughter.
Over the last several years, The Coed has learned a lot of things about life and growing up, and a couple of hard knocks took the wind out of her sails. I was hoping this summer of campers and God time might allow her the time to reconnect with her soul, and enable her to come back happy and refreshed for the fall semester. Because sometimes, you just need a break from your life. As a parent, I’ve learned that again and again, but here’s the thing: being a parent, sometimes you just have to watch someone you love struggle through the muck to learn life’s lessons and be stronger on the other side. This is not an easy thing, and I find myself worrying and cheering on her behalf. But this week I felt reborn with her. Her happiness and excitement were infectious, and I loved hearing the fun and self assurance in her voice once again. Again, as a parent, I was thrilled, even though I really wasn’t able to do much for her except to be there.
So then I stopped by her facebook page to write on her wall, and this is what I found:
Now, in case you can’t tell (what are you, blind??), this is a picture of me when I lived in NYC, before a twist of fate brought me to Pennsylvania and marriage and kids and that whole family thing I never really wanted. I never wanted it because the growing up I had to do was hard, and I really didn’t have a good role model for this parenting thing. I was terrified I would make all the REALLY BAD mistakes, and totally set my kids up for years of therapy and future missteps of their own. And as I read this, I started to cry. Because apparently, I’ve done something right, and even though it’s hard, seeing something like this is incredibly rewarding.
As if the universe was trying to tell me something, Seth Godin’s blog post today is exactly about what matters.
- When you love the work you do and the people you do it with, you matter.
- When you are so gracious and generous and aware that you think of other people before yourself, you matter.
- When you leave the world a better place than you found it, you matter.
- When you continue to raise the bar on what you do and how you do it, you matter.
- When you teach and forgive and teach more before you rush to judge and demean, you matter.
- When you touch the people in your life through your actions (and your words), you matter.
- When kids grow up wanting to be you, you matter.
- When you see the world as it is, but insist on making it more like it could be, you matter.
- When you inspire a Nobel prize winner or a slum dweller, you matter.
- When the room brightens when you walk in, you matter.
- And when the legacy you leave behind lasts for hours, days or a lifetime, you matter.
Thank you to The Coed for showing me how, whether at work or play, what we do — and how we do it — matters.