Have at it

'Afterwards I gave my son a huge hug; he had performed well all day. He fell into my arms in tears. To his young (and competitive) mind the difference between his team taking first and finishing in second place was the missed element in his routine.

My heart broke for my son. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. I have three sons and have wiped many tears over the years – some of them my own. Disappointment is part of life and salving the wounds of disappointment is part of a parents’ job description. Call it the bittersweet experience of parenthood; bitter because the tears we kiss away are always salty; sweet because these moments flavor our lives forever; they remain with us as parents and are part of the glue of trust that bonds our children to us.

I held my son as tightly as I could. I kissed his face and wiped away his tears. I whispered to him over and over again how proud I was of him–how proud his mother was of him. It had been a long weekend; he was emotionally and physically tired. I wanted to hold him up. I thought that if I held him tightly enough he might understand how deeply and utterly in love with him I am and that would make everything better.

I was recently asked to contribute some thoughts to a book aimed at young women aspiring to have it all: career, family and marriage. “What would you tell your daughters?” was how it was put to me. As it happens I don’t have any daughters; I have 3 sons and what I tell them is the same thing I would tell them if they were girls; it is the same thing I learned last week. Professional success is important; it can do wonders for our self-esteem to say nothing of our bank accounts. It provides us with status, luxury and comfort. None of these are bad things. However, at the end of the day life is about relationships. Never miss the opportunity to wipe away your child’s tears, or hug them in celebration. If you miss the opportunity to laugh with your best girlfriend until your sides hurt; make love to your spouse late into the night, sip tea with your grandmother; listen to your fathers old stories or any number of other wonderful moments because you are chasing professional success you will have missed a great deal. More importantly you will have missed the point. At the end of our journey on this side of the darkness neither our children nor anyone else will care about our degrees, awards or how much money we saved the company. Everyone will, however, remember the warmth of our hugs, the tenderness of our kiss and the spirit of our laughter.

Have at it.'

- Joseph C Phillips, 'Don’t Miss the Point and Don’t Miss Out'.


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