I write a lot about choices and how much of life boils down to the ones we do and do not make. Holidays like Mother’s Day today always cause me to pause and reflect on some of those choices that have shaped my life.
When my mother was a young woman, she became pregnant with me. Her significant other chose for his DNA to be the only thing he was going to contribute to the equation as he immediately walked away never to turn back. My mother chose me, and began preparing for her first-born to enter this world. In this situation you can clearly see that being a parent was a choice; one chose their child to be and the other chose themselves over their child.
As my mother carried me, brought me into this world, and then began to raise me she continued to make the choice every day to be there and be my mother. It wasn’t a title in name only, or a responsibility she talked about; she chose motherhood over everything else in her life. Everything she did said, “I choose you”. This decision-making she had demonstrated continued with the additions of each of my two brothers and sister. Then, 16 years later again with my two step-sisters and step brother.
In the 35 years of my life, I saw my mother choose her 7 children every day of our lives. In that same period of time, I saw not one, but three different men not choose their children in their daily lives, and ultimately walk out on their children and choose not to be their fathers or in their lives.
When I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school, the woman I was planning to marry(later did) and I learned we were expecting our first child. Even in 2002, young and unwed parents were quite the controversy with many of those in our lives. Questions were raised if we should have the baby, should we raise it, and even as direct as why would I want this baby with my potential and ambitious aspirations I had for my life…
Without question my response was simple: If you don’t know that being a father to my child(ren) is the single most important thing I could ever do with my life, then you must not know me very well. I stand by that response today, 16 years later and with my three children who I raise on my own full-time.
Like my mother’s example; success for me will not be my job title or the zeros on my pay check(though those are nice though), and it won’t be any accolades or awards. My success is in my children and the lives the grow up to live.
I have long since come to terms with the fact that I am far from a perfect parent, nor will I ever be one despite my best efforts. No matter the how good or bad the times may be for the moment; I’m there, I have been there, and I will always be there. In the list of things I want my children to know without question, one of them is to know that I chose them, and continue to choose them.
How else do you really show children that you love them? Love, like parenting isn’t a spectator sport. You don’t love someone at arms length, and you don’t love by words alone. You show them your love for them by your actions more than anything. I never want an “I love you”, a compliment, correction, or promise to ever feel empty coming off my lips; I want my words to hold value and mean something.
As my children get older, I realize more and more how much I owe who I am and who I’m becoming as a father to my mom. I am so blessed to have this woman in my life and thankful beyond words that she said “I choose you”.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and to all the other Moms and Dads who tell their kids, “I chose you”.