26 Apr

Two weeks ago, the hubs and I were watching The Real Housewives of Orange County (feel free to judge. we love that show for its ridiculousness and hilarity and stupidity and its not-being-able-to-turn-away-from-a-train-crash quality).

There’s a new housewife, Lydia. She was introducing herself on the show and, as most new housewives do, she was trying to make herself look more “real” than her cohorts. She was talking about her family money and how they “live within their means” and how her parents taught her that she was no “different than anybody else” and how they were “blessed”.

I could expound on the “differences” between my upbringing and hers. I can promise that they were different. I could also talk about how Joe Kennedy (the father of JFK and Bobby Kennedy and seven other kids) taught his kids that they WERE different. They were lucky because they had money. They had opportunities that others didn’t…that A LOT of others didn’t. He taught them that it was their responsibility to make their life’s work about others. To work hard for people who were less fortunate than they. But this story is for a different day.

What I want to talk about is what I heard on the radio the next morning. I was listening to NPR in the morning…it was a Friday. On Fridays Morning Edition picks a story from StoryCorps to share on the air.

This was the Friday after the Boston Marathon bombing. This was also the Friday after the explosions in West, Texas. Morning Edition chose to share a story told by a father, who happened to be a leg amputee, to his daughter. The father, Jack, explained that when his daughter was 2 months old, his leg was crushed by a forklift at work and had to be amputated. He talked about how scared he was as a new father to this baby. How was he going to provide for her? How was he going to be a good father? His daughter then starts to describe her father as she was growing up. She said that he was always doing good things for other people and never wanted recognition for it. Her father responded with this statement:

“You know, you are truly blessed when God gives you the opportunity to help someone else,” Jack says. “That’s our purpose in life.”

I had a moment of clarity after I heard that.  He is completely correct.  I realized the thing that bothered me the most about what housewife Lydia said was not that she had a ton of money growing up (I don’t begrudge her that at all) but it was that by her saying that she was “blessed” because they had money meant that others weren’t “blessed” because they didn’t have money.   I could take that in a bunch of different directions…but it led me here:

What Jack, from StoryCorps, said really made me think about all those people who ran TOWARD the blast after it happened…to help others.  I asked myself if I would have been able to do that.  Would I have been able to react for others and not for myself?  And then I started thinking about my kids and what I want to teach them.  No matter how much I want to protect my children from any pain, as any parent would, I want to teach them to be helpers.  I want to teach them that they are lucky and blessed to be able to help others.  Because I do believe that is our purpose in life.

Parenthood never fails to teach me…even though I may not be super interested in learning right at that moment.  I feel I’m always walking the tightrope between failing and succeeding.  As long as I have just a few more successes than failures I feel pretty good.  But I do think I would feel most successful as a parent if my kids end up happy, know themselves well, and are helpers.


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