The greatest meaning a person can find in life is in service to others. (And also to have fun while doing it.)
There’s not only one way to help your fellow humans. You can be Nelson Mandela (who was confirmed the winner of the South African presidency on this date in 1994).
You can be a Mother Teresa.
You can be a Marie Curie.
You can even be a superstar basketball player (Happy birthday, Chris Paul!)
You can be a teacher, a doctor, or volunteer your time in a school. You can even, against all odds, be kind and patient and forgiving in a Trader Joe’s parking lot at dinner time.
(Kidding. That’s not Trader Joes. No Priuses.)
Or, like me, your highest calling for service may be making other parents feel better about the job they’re doing.
There was the time I forgot to register my son for kindergarten. There was last Mother’s Day when I lost the same kiddo and the police were alerted. And there’s this afternoon, when his adamant insistence that he is not going back to swim team broke my resolve that he keep going because it’s good for him.
“Have a backbone,” I counseled my dear friend yesterday, a mother of one-year-old twins. “If I could do one thing different as a parent, I would have a spine.” I would, like some of my peers claim to do, require “a sport and an instrument every semester.” I wonder, do their kids push back as hard, do they bristle at these must-do’s, or do they actually want to play lacrosse and clarinet?
Swim team per se isn’t important to me, but he has rejected every other sport he has tried and I am hyper-aware of the call to arms that our children must be active or face ruin! Move! Get up! Run in place in front of the TV for godssake! Just don’t be still! I believe my son objects to the structure of team sports and after-school lessons. After six hours in school, he wants to come home, goof off, play on the trampoline…and watch lots and lots of television. (I usually have the backbone to hold off on the last one.)
As we approach the carefree unstructured days of summer, I must practice saying, “Go outside and play.” I will try to summon the strength of my convictions, and I will fail to meet my standards.
As ever, I will offer myself as your source of Scheudenfraude, so that no matter what happens you will be able to say, “At least I’m not as bad as Laura…”
You’re welcome, in advance.