I’ve got enough life behind me by now to be almost grateful for the scars I’ve gotten along the way. While earning them has been painful, they’ve made me who I am. I hate the saying that what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, but I have to admit it’s true…except, of course, unless you allow it to break you. What’s killing me now is watching my kids earn their own scars; it hurts me more when they hurt, than when I hurt for me.
When they are born, we tell ourselves it will be different for them. We will watch over and protect them. We will teach them our hard-won life lessons so they won’t make our mistakes. We will apply much of our financial resources to give them every advantage. How naive we are. It doesn’t occur to us that countless generations of parents before us made the same pledges, and yet the human condition remains largely the same. Yes, technological improvements over the last couple hundred years have partially lifted the burdens of billions, yet suffering and war and sickness and disaster are ever-present. But mostly we are still left with our own inexperienced, flawed decision-making which, for most of us, remains the largest source of our own, self-inflicted scars
Growing up is hard. I don’t know how to help them beyond giving them advice and making sure they know they’re loved and accepted. I know, you say, that is helping. But that’s never enough for a parent, is it? We want to fix it. And the hard part is, we want to fix it our way, not theirs. We not only can’t control the situation, we can’t control them. And so we care…care just as deeply (or more) as if it were happening to us, but without any control. It’s awful.
I’m trying to tell myself the obvious, that if I’m thankful for my scars, I must patiently wait for the day my children will be grateful for theirs. Somehow, we seem to need to learn important lessons the hard way. If they are hurting, they are learning and growing. While I pray for my children, I will also pray for myself, to remember that this is its own good.
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” –Helen Keller