Being a parent is by far the hardest job in the world. There is no manual or class that can tell you what to do or how to approach any given situation. We simply rely on our on instincts, knowledge and past experiences in hopes that we will raise our children to be happy and productive members of society. Being the mom of 3 boys my number one goal is to raise my BOYS to be good MEN. This world is lacking in the “man” department and I want to ensure that I do my part in making sure my boys help turn the trend around. So here are some things, written to my sons, that I hope my boys will learn from me and be able to go into the world better men.
1) Being a hard worker is a must….but it’s not always rewarding. It used to be that if you worked hard…you would succeed. If you put in extra hours it would be noticed resulting in a new position or a higher amount of pay. These days, however, it doesn’t always work like that and 9 times out of 10 the hard workers get more penalties than rewards. Unfortunately, we live in a society where those who have put in the most time are the first to let go. Or the ones who have earned the most money are the first to get a cut in pay. It’s much easier and some times more profitable to be lazy, go through the motions, and only give 50%. I want you to understand that although easier….it’s not acceptable. Hard work is what makes us better people and is what makes the country better for all people. At the end of the day I want you to be able to look in the mirror and feel satisfied that you gave 110% even though you may never see the benefit of that. I never want you to regret going through the motions in life and live every day giving it everything they had.
2) Life is short. When we are little life seems like a million years long. It’s like a road that will never end. Then we get a little bit older and either through maturity or life experiences we realize that life is very short. The years go by faster, the months disappear with the blink of an eye and days just blend together, until so many have passed by, you can barely remember living them. We all assume that we will live to be old and die peacefully in our sleep, but reality is much different. We have no idea when our time will be up. It could be tomorrow or 50 years from now. Whenever it is, I want you to understand that life is fleeting and too short to waste time. We don’t have an endless supply of years to use up….we can’t just keep saying “I’ll do that tomorrow or next year.” We only have so many tomorrows. I want you to use every day as a day to enrich your life and live to the fullest.
3) It’s okay to lose. We all want to win and succeed in everything that we do but that just isn’t very realistic. There is always going to be someone out there who can beat us at a game, in school, in our jobs etc. Losing is a good part of life. It keeps us humble and grounded. It teaches us to always remember to have fun and not get too caught up in the end result. It allows us to be the bigger person and be happy for others in their successes. It shows us where we can improve and how we can do better next time. There are many times we have to battle life and many times that life wins. It’s easier to learn and grow and be better men when you accept loss and move forward.
4) We all make mistakes and that’s okay. I always want to teach you that it’s okay to mess up sometimes. I never want to hold you to a standard of perfection because that is unattainable. YOU will screw up….plain and simple. YOU will make stupid decisions sometimes and YOU will do things that will have me shaking my head. But as a mom I can’t keep you from the inevitable. I can only teach you how to make good decisions and be there for you when you’ve made the wrong one. The best lessons I ever learned came from making mistakes. Nobody was harder on me than I was on myself and it taught me how to live my life in a way that I could look at myself every day in the mirror and be okay with who I was. I want you to understand that temptation is everywhere and very accessible. But when the time comes to choose between fitting in or doing the right thing….I hope you will remember that YOU have to look at yourself in the mirror every day for the rest of your life. They don’t have to look at their friends or their family….nope… just themselves. It’s a lonely world if you don’t like what you see. If you can look in the mirror and be okay with the decisions you made and the person you are, than I can too.
5) It’s okay to fail. We will never be successful at everything that we do. It’s humanly impossible. Many great people of our time have come from failure. I never want you to be too proud to admit to failure or be to scared to take chances after failing. Sometimes we are just meant to fail at things in life no matter how hard we try. We can do everything right and still not have the outcome we had hoped. I hope you understand that failure should only push us to get back up and be stronger and more prepared next time. I truly believe that great success happens on the heels of failure.
6) Adopt healthy habits now while you are young. Being healthy and active is so important. We have one body that has to last us the rest of our life, therefore, we must take care of it. Living healthily is one of the hardest things you will do but without our health we have nothing. Don’t be selfish and not take care of yourself. Some day you will have your own family depending on you to be around for them for a long time. Don’t disappoint them.
7) Don’t forget who you are or where you came from. When I was growing up, before I would leave the house, my dad would always say,”Remember who you are.” His dad had always reminded him of that and it stuck with him. I always felt like I had a pretty good sense of who I was but a reminder always helped. I want to say the same thing to you. Who we are at the core of our being is the most important thing to remember in this life. We choose to be a good person or a bad person. We choose to wake up every day and do something good in this world or not do anything at all. When we are faced with those hard decisions to do the right thing it’s important to reflect on who we are as a person and make the best decision in that situation. As I said earlier, you have to live with no one but yourself so you better like who that person is.
8) Don’t be to proud to ask for help. You are a man and men think they should know how to do EVERYTHING. But guess what….you don’t know everything now and you never will. It’s okay to not be able to do everything on your own all the time. This is unrealistic for anyone. No one will think less of you as a man if you ask for some assistance sometimes. However, this doesn’t mean you get hand outs or freebies. You still have to work hard and stand on your own two feet as a man.
9) Find happiness in the small things. Every time you turn around, life will try to tear you down. Our journey in this world is filled with potholes, road blocks and a whole lot of speed bumps. It’s easy to get bogged down, stressed and feel beaten in our day to day lives. This is why it’s so important to find happiness in all the little things that happen throughout the day. Wake up every day, look in the mirror, and smile because you’re alive. Relish in the fact that you were given another day to LIVE….and then truly LIVE. There is such a difference in being alive and living and a big part of that is choosing to be happy, even in the little things. There is always a way to find the happy in any situation…..so choose to find it and then choose to live it.
10) Don’t be afraid to say “I Love You” and say it often. Always tell those you care about how much they mean to you. Life is short and we are not guaranteed tomorrow so make sure you always tell those you love how you feel. No one ever regrets saying I love you too much, only not enough.
11) Don’t take your brothers for granted and always work hard to stay in touch. Your brother’s will always be the most important guys in your life. They will know you better than you know yourself, they will be there to support you and they will always be there to keep you out of trouble. Protect and nurture that relationship and bond so that when me and dad are gone you will continue to have each other.
12) Lastly, no matter where you are in the world there will always be two people in this universe who love you beyond infinity. Home will always be here for you when you are weary and sad, worn out and beat up, or have given up. There will always be a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold and an ear to listen. We will never stop celebrating your successes no matter how small and your continued happiness will always be our only wish for you. I hope that I can be around until I’m old and gray and 100 years old….but even if I’m not I will be with you in your heart and that’s a place you can always come home to.