Flipping through a copy of Parenting magazine, I came across an article in which staff, readers, and a handful of writers were asked, ‘What is the one life lesson you want to pass on to your child?’ The question made me think about my life and what I have learned, and the ways in which I learned them. Life lessons are often learned through mistakes, far too often our own. I am the type of parent who loses sleep worrying about whether I am adequately preparing my child for the “real world.” My son is only two but already I tell myself often, ‘You can’t protect him from everything. That is not your job.’ I have to accept that he will have to step out on his own and learn.
One way in which I try to impart life lessons to my son is by writing to him. When I was pregnant with him, I started keeping a journal. It was initially a way to chart his progress, as well as my own. I wrote about his developments, what his heart rate was at the most recent check-up, what my weight was, (actually I stopped recording those numbers somewhere in the second trimester when I began to disagree with them), and how I was feeling, physically and emotionally. As I got bigger and bigger and began to realize I was about to give birth to a person, I began to write to him, not just about him. I began to write to him as if I were talking to him as a teenager, the time when I will likely need him to listen to me the most.
Writing provides a way for me to speak to him without being interrupted, without having to stop and find the right words. It allows me to be open, honest, and understanding, as I hope to be as a parent later when those qualities are needed. I accept that I can’t protect him from everything and that he will have to learn many things on his own and (cringe) go through his own mistakes, but in writing to him I feel that I am providing the best advice and guidance I can give him.
So if you could give your child/children only one life lesson, what would it be?
Ambata is a native New Orleanian and mother to a two year old son. She is currently working on a master’s degree in English Literature. She has just started blogging at MORmama.