The following post was inspired by Marcia Kemp Sterling’s riveting novel One Summer in Arkansas. When golden boy Lee returns home to Arkansas for the summer, his Silicon Valley smarts can’t save him from getting pulled back in to the dramas of the town, the family, and the love he left behind. While this hauntingly beautiful story touches on law, family, race, and religion, it’s no surprise that as the story was unfolding, I found myself asking, “Where did this mother go wrong?”
From the moment our kids are born, we’re overwhelmed with love. This helpless, sweet child is all ours to adore, to cuddle, to sniff, to show off.
And to raise?!
That’s right, somewhere along the line, we realize how high the expectations are for us as parents. Really? We have to turn this helpless little lump into a successful adult?
We don’t mean to, but we start to look to our kids for affirmation that we’re doing things — ok, something — right. We can’t help it, everywhere we go, people ask. Is he a good sleeper? Is she rolling over? Is he talking yet? Is she doing well in school? Is he on the team?
With each answer, it’s as if our parenting resume is being written. We start to see our success wrapped up in our kids’ successes. Tangible successes. It starts with good grades, awards, girls (be them friends or dates). And, as the years go by, they become the kinds of successes that go on applications and fill bank accounts.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. I already find myself getting too wrapped up in what book Big is reading, or how many baskets he’s scoring. Not because I think I actually had anything to do with the answers, but because those successes can be measured.
And while I certainly want my kids to do well in school, and have fun out on the field, I know better. I know my success as a mom won’t be determined by their job titles some day.
It will be measured by their ability to love — and show that love — to the people in their lives. By their willingness to laugh — with others and at themselves. By their creativity when coming up with solutions to problems — big and small. By their strength when faced with a challenge. By their kindness, compassion, honesty, sense of humor, resilience, and generosity. By their character.
So, in the end, if I’ve raised three good people, well, I know that will bring me immeasurable joy.
*Giveaway* Please leave a comment by Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 12pm PST for a chance to win a copy of One Summer in Arkansas. The winner will be chosen at random and must live in the U.S.
For a more traditional review of this book, please visit my friend, Aimee, at Everyday Epistle. To purchase One Summer in Arkansas and discover more about Marcia Kemp Sterling, please visit Marcia’s website www.MarciaKempSterling.com.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own.