For me, summer camp represents a time and place filled with special memories, deep learning and great fun. Many memories have stuck with me. This morning, I woke up- struck by an old favorite.
I don’t remember the exact scenery, but I remember the lesson. It was an old Jewish tale about a Rabbi (18th century Hassidic Rabbi Simcha Bunem, thanks google!) who said we each have two pockets. In one pocket, we carry a note that says, “I am dust and ashes.” In the other pocket, we carry a note that says, “For me, the world was created.” There’s a time and place for each of these notes depending on the situation. Sometimes, we need to reach into one pocket and check our ego at the door, find our own humility and remember that we are but a speck in the universe. At other times, we reach for the other pocket when we're feeling discouraged or worthless and need a gentle reminder that we are each unique, significant and central to the lives of others.
Recalling this story, I felt newly empowered to dance between the many dichotomies that parenting presents. Not least of which includes the struggle between enjoying these precious years and wishing they’d pass more quickly.
From now on, I’ll keep one note in my pocket that says, “Cherish every moment, for these tender years go so fast.” In the other pocket, I’ll keep a note that says, “This too shall pass.” That way, when one son is biting and the other one goes weeks without eating a vegetable and the other one isn’t sleeping through the night, I won’t feel badly pulling out the note that says, “This too shall pass,” because I’ll always know there’s another note waiting for me when I’m ready to read it. And when I’m ready, I’ll become instantly present to cherishing the gift of the early years.
What parenting moments pull you in two directions?
What will the notes in your pockets say?