Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beautiful Heart Girl Turns 21

As I have mentioned, my kids are the greatest bearers of joy to my life. They probably wouldn't like to hear me say this next part, but I must. If I died tomorrow, I would know that my life's purpose was complete; my kids have blossomed into beautifully loving and giving individuals who are pursuing lives based on meaning and strengths. Yes, they are flourishing! Stefanie, pictured here smiling as she enjoys the beauty of nature, is about to turn 21, and has the world at her feet. She is working hard at college, studying, writing papers, taking exams, hiking to beautiful places in between! and trying to decipher the path she will take to find, as Tal Ben Shahar writes about in "Happier", the intersection of meaning, pleasure and strengths.
Much of what I have read lately about flourishing and well-being points to an important factor in my kids' development. Although I have often felt guilty that sometimes my choices as a single parent did not necessarily reflect the desires of my kids, I do know that their life experiences have made them stronger and more resilient. Surely they must have had fantasies of a happy family reunion, where their father and I would reunite and all would live happily ever after. They were babies when we divorced, and only knew that they had two loving places to call home. We did our best to parent as a team, though we had our different styles, for sure. My kids and I moved many times in the early years, trying to find the most affordable safe place to live. This was not exactly easy in Orange County, CA. I tried to keep consistency by not changing their schools,when possible, which seemed to help a bit too.
The bottom line, I suppose, is that I did not, and could not, spare my children from experiencing hardships. I surrounded them with loving extended family members, worked hard as a cashier in a supermarket for 15 years as I returned to school for my M.A. , encouraged them to openly share their feelings, and fostered their strengths and interests as best I could.
Today, I admire the results in my beautiful daughter: ( you can read bout my son in a prior post) creative, insightful, smart, kind and committed to making this world a better place. She cares about issues and causes I have only just learned about. We talk several times a week, typing frantically to each other online as our ideas bounce back and forth, pondering life and the complex dilemmas facing our world. Stefanie is evolved and genuinely interested in finding her place in addressing the complicated future we face.
Yes, I am undeniably proud of her and filled with hope that she will lead a rewarding, fulfilling life. I love her beyond what words can adequately express.

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