November 6, 2016

So you raise a child and you make so many mistakes that you sometimes wonder how this boy stayed out of jail and off drugs. You have friends who made far better parenting choices whose grown children fight ineffectual battles against social dragons that are beyond your imagining, and you feel sympathetic horror for those parents as their child fails again and again. You can’t take any pleasure in that, not one moment of schadenfreude. Instead, you feel a sickening thrill that’s akin to running up to the edge of a cliff and almost going over. The best you can feel is relief that you somehow – not through one single effort of your own – avoided the same fall. Your heart knows, that could have been me down there on the rocks. It should have been me.

You see your son grow up and you stand back in awe over the person he’s become: The depth of his compassion, his wisdom, his common sense – all of those things in spades. And you acknowledge that he is this marvelous person not because of your questionable parenting skills, but in spite of them.

And you see him with his own child, and you know that everything good is going to be passed down to another generation, in spite of all the baggage you dragged along as a parent and sometimes – admit it, don’t shy away from the truth – you made him drag along for you.

You realize he doesn’t see your failings; or perhaps he does, he just has heart enough to pretend he doesn’t.

And you’re thankful for heroes.

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