My day began with a call out from one of our 911 dispatchers about 6:15 in the morning. 6:15 is really not bad at all in terms of timing! But, they don’t call because all is well. It was a challenging experience, which is the norm. I tried to do a good job serving those who were impacted by a particularly difficult crisis.
Later in the day another major incident occurred. This one ended up being a late-night experience, so by the time all was said and done I arrived home around 2:00 the next morning. I was exhausted. The day started early and ended late. I love what I do, but it can be physically and emotionally taxing.
When I arrived home, our youngest son was still up. No great surprise… we raised three nocturnal creatures. When I met him briefly in the hallway, he paused… He said: “You’ve had a really long day.” And then hugged me and told me he loved me. He knew exactly where I had been, and what I had been doing.
I was blown away. I was touched. And, I felt valued and understood. I have always thought that parents were supposed to encourage their children. But at 2:00 that particular morning, I was on the receiving end.
I slept peacefully for the rest of the night. And if the truth be known, I don’t always sleep well. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up at 2:00 in the morning. And it’s in those wee hours of the morning that I have my darkest thoughts. I recall every last fault I have as a parent. I dwell on mistakes I made 20 years ago. I wonder if I ruined my children for life due to my insecurities and weaknesses. The destructive thoughts are never ending. In the early morning hours, my brain works fast.
But, I slept peacefully for a few hours that night. When I woke up shortly after dawn, I had one recurring thought. I have a son who possesses the ability to feel and express empathy. In my book, that’s a big deal. I believe that is of utmost importance. We tend to measure our parenting success by things that are clearly tangible. A child feeling and expressing empathy is not something most parents even think about nearly enough, but yet it’s so important.
I tend to think that I am not the only one who will continue to be on the receiving end of such kindness from my youngest. When a person possesses empathy for people, it has a way of resurfacing. Wondering who will benefit next is the kind of thing I need to be entertaining in my head. I am sure I can expect more 2:00 a.m. shaming sessions. It happens at this stage in life, so next time it occurs I need to walk down the hallway, and stand in the very place where a sacred moment occurred in the wee hours of another morning. Perhaps, I will be reminded of how fortunate I really am.
How are you feeling about your capacity to parent well today? If you are really discouraged, don’t fail to see the character traits that surface in your child’s life that may or not may be tangible… And…don’t forget to take note of the character traits that we don’t always dwell on every single day