The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Children

My mom scared the tar out of me when I was a teenager.

She started getting her crap figured out. I’m sure there is a better way of wording that, but it eludes me at the moment.

Books appeared with interesting titles. During a tumultuous period of parenting, I noticed on her bookshelf, “Where Does A Parent Go to Resign?” If that doesn’t give a child pause, I don’t know what will.

She talked a lot more about the things in her past that brought her shame. Some of the things were shocking. She changed some unhealthy patterns of relating with others.

Some people talked.

But she cared more about her own well-being and the health of her family than she did about not rocking the boat.

The truth of the “not-rocking” boat was that it only looked shiny and safe above the water line in a calm protected cove. You don’t need a strong boat if it’s only there to be tethered to the dock. If you are going to pull up the anchor and take it out for any other purpose, it needs to be strong enough to withstand a few waves.

Nothing reveals the structural issues of a boat like a storm.

Mom mom had decided she wanted more than a safe and protected life. She specifically looked below the water-line at the scary cracks.

It was confusing and terrifying. And for the first time, I saw her come alive.

I saw her be brave.

I saw her mess up the entire process and keep trying.

I saw her reject shame.

Looking at the broken pieces didn’t create the cracks. It served to reveal them and gave her a chance to shore up the weak spots and plug the leaks.

It was the greatest legacy she left me.

In 2009, after my mom died unexpectedly,  I sat in the sanctuary of the church I had grown up in, surrounded by people who had come to honor her life. There were women there I had never met whose lives were better because she had chosen to risk being vulnerable about her weaknesses. Her willingness to go first, paved the way for others to follow.

If there is one lesson she taught it me, it was this:
A woman with hidden cracks isn’t any stronger than the one whose brokenness is exposed.


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3 thoughts on “The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Children

  1. Wow just wow. Some days I feel like you are speaking right to me. Thank you for giving us real things to ponder and take in and challenge our thinking!

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