My daughter, who is fifteen now, asked me yesterday what my greatest accomplishment has been so far. She couldn’t imagine what hers would be, and she says she sees this question or some form of it on college-type essays, and just wants to know what I would say. She’s checking out the possible answers. Of course I have had a lot more opportunity than her but nevertheless she says it’s something she wants to think about, so… what is my greatest accomplishment?
I don’t have to think long to come up with, “Turning myself into a decent parent,” as an answer.
Sure sounds like not much.
But I know better. I know that I came from a lot of frustration and disappointment, and dreams of having a parent that showed some interest in my life and in me. Family that showed signs of caring about me in a way that felt good. It was confusing as hell to be told I was loved but to have those same people be cruel. I know that I did not have the model that makes it possible to get it right when it is my turn to be a parent. So I recognize along the way I must do something to fix it all. I discover the power of psychotherapy to help me get past my misunderstanding of how the world works. And then I have kids and I do get it right. Right enough to end up knowing I am a decent parent.