“Don’t Wish Your Life Away” And Other Life Lessons I Wish My Parents Were Here To Teach My Kids

Life Lessons

Both of my parents are deceased.  Both died unexpectedly.  Both gone too soon.  Dad left when I was 15 and mom when I was 29.  There are so many things I wish they were here to share with my kids.  So many life lessons I learned from them.

“Don’t Wish Your Life Away”

High School Me:  “I wish it was Friday.”

Mom:  “Don’t wish your life away.”

College Me:  “I wish this semester was over.”

Mom: “Don’t wish your life away.”

Professional Me:  “I wish this presentation was the over.”

Mom:  “Don’t wish your life away.”

You get the picture.  She was right.  When you wish away the bad and stressful parts of life, you also wish away all the good that’s in between.  Now whenever my 7 year-old or 5 year-old “wish” something away, my response, without hesitation,  is “Don’t wish your life away.”  Life is short.  Too short to wish it away.

Hard Work, Your Parents Are More Than Just Your Parents, and the Value of One-on-One Time

My dad worked in road construction.  During the summer he would often take one of us on the job site with him.  Sometimes it was planned ahead of time and other times not.  Dad would pop his head in at 4:30 a.m. and ask if we wanted to tag along for the day.  I can’t even describe how cool I felt sitting shotgun in my dad’s pickup truck checking out the work site.  It opened my eyes to the hard work the crew put in day in and day out.  Even more valuable was seeing my dad in a role other than dad.  To others he was a boss, an employee, a colleague, and a friend.  As a child you forget that your mom and dad wear hats other than parent.  I am one of 5, so having that one-on-one time was special.  Something I didn’t appreciate as much as I should have.  I was probably 13 or 14 when he woke me up one morning, “Do you want to ride with me to Tomahawk today?”  It was 4:30 in the morning and I was a teenager.  I chose sleep.  I can still see him standing in my doorway.  To this day it remains one of my biggest regrets.

Just Listen

My relationship with my mom was unique in that we became closest when I moved half a country  away.  It was the way our dynamic worked best and that’s ok.  Every day on my commute home I called my mom (I realize talking and driving wasn’t the safest thing to do).  Often I sat in traffic so our calls were lengthy.  We talked about the mundane, boring stuff, but we also aired our laundry to each other.  As we continued this daily ritual I realized many times she didn’t give me her opinion on some topics (though I knew she probably wanted to).  She just listened and probably chimed in with a few “don’t wish your life away” comments.  I appreciated it so much.  As our daily talks continued I consciously made an effort (not always succeeding) to do the same for her…to just listen.  Each time I hung up the phone I felt cleansed and I hope she felt the same.  She was my therapy.  For months after she passed my hand still reached for the phone when I sat in the driver’s seat.  It was habit.  A habit I was forced to kick too soon.

Have Passion

Those who knew my mom knew her undying love for the Chicago Cubs.  I was making the daily call on my drive home and asked, “Where are you?  You sound weird.”  Her response, “Oh, I am sitting in the car.  The Cubs aren’t televised and I can only get 720 to come in on my car radio.”  She was sitting in her parked car…in the driveway…listening to the game.  That was mom.  Passionate.  I can only imagine her delight in seeing the Cubs do so well this season.

These life lessons are ones I continue to value more and more with the passing of time.  As much as I wish they were here to teach these lessons to my kids, I need to remember they live on through me.  Through me they are still finding a way to leave their stamp on lives of my children.

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