I was touched today to see two young men host a birthday dinner party for their moms. The two young men were my son Jelan and his friend Zac. Zac and his family are also our next door neighbours. Zac’s mom and I celebrate our birthdays a day apart and Jelan and Zac celebrate their birthdays one day apart too! Strange coincidence!
We have watched the boys grow up over the years and it is quite remarkable to see them take on more and more responsibility for their lives but more importantly to practice kindness and compassion towards others. The effort and love which the two of them put into creating this little dinner party for the two families touched my heart. They planned the menu, took the afternoon off and created a joyful space for the celebration. Neither one of them cook much at home – so I was very impressed with the culinary skills and the great BBQ.
As a parent, I have held my breath many times as I raise my kids for all kinds of reasons. I have lived with the fear that they would take the wrong path; I have had doubts about my parenting skills; I have spent sleepless nights wondering if they would get home on a particular night and I have prayed millions of times for God to guide them and protect them wherever they are. Parenting, as most of us who are parents know, does not come with a manual for our unique children. We apply some best practices and common knowledge but the soul is each child is so uniquely different that we must also allow them the freedom to explore and have the confidence that they will turn out to be fine individuals.
I have repeatedly asked myself the question, “What evidence would I need to have, to know that my children would be fine in the world and be good, contributing citizens?” My answers have been to complete their education, have a good job, be financially responsible, have their own families, own their own home and to have great relationships with others.
Lately, I have added a few more items to the list. I want them to be able to live harmoniously with other people and to have compassion and kindness in their hearts towards ALL people, not simply those whom they know or are privileged to spend time with them on a regular basis. As easy as this sounds, it is not always easy to practice kindness and compassion because we have grown to be quite a cautious society with judgements about others which can cause us to be indifferent, unkind or sometimes even hostile.
After watching them in action today, it is my hope that they will continue to remain grounded in humility and find small and big ways to add beauty to the planet through the consciousness of kindness and compassion.