Life is not about you, but sometimes a moment is. Two different events in our family brought this home to me recently.
My oldest daughter was accepted to her college of choice only three weeks into her senior year in high school. After watching her work so hard for 12 years, it was a joyful moment for my husband and me to savor with our daughter. At family dinner a couple nights later, my husband happily announced our daughter as the MVP of the week for the family and we all joined in celebrating her significant accomplishment.
A few weeks ago, after planning a college visit trip for our oldest son my husband and I were going over the details when our son asked why I had to join them on the trip. “Mom didn’t go when you went last year, why does she have to go with us when you take me?” At first I was hurt that he didn’t want me along. Then I remembered life is not about me, and this moment was probably about him.
“Life is not about you,” is a common phrase heard around our house. We have given our children many opportunities to learn this concept. With nine people living in one house, this is a life principle that is necessary just to make it out the door in the morning. Until these recent events, I had not often considered the fact that if life is not about me then that may mean that sometimes moments are about me. If I live my life looking to think of others first, then that means occasionally those in my community, those in my family will celebrate with me when my moment comes. If life is not always about me, then those in my family will have better capacity to weep with me when my hardship comes.
I think we do our children and our culture a disservice by perpetuating the belief that in order to show love to our children they must be the center of every activity, decision, conversation and party. If, instead we give them the gift of looking beyond themselves, we also make it possible for them to experience the joy of celebrating with others and then being celebrated in turn.
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