You’ll be a Man, my son

When I was in 7th grade, a teacher at my private school required me to memorize “If,” by Rudyard Kipling. It still resonates in my head sometimes, snatches here and there that come to mind under certain circumstances. The narrator tells what he wishes for his son – that he would be able to

“keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too…”

and

“talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much…”

His words are thrilling and challenging. When I read it again recently, it made me wonder – what would I want Smooch to know, to do, to be, when he becomes a man?

I hope that he shares my values; that, as a grown man, he will have an abiding faith in God, his Creator and Father. That he will cherish human life, and respect those around him. That he will show kindness and love, even in the face of pain or cruelty. That he will work hard, earn an honest living, and remember that money doesn’t matter if you don’t truly live the life it affords you.

I hope he chooses grace over judgement. I hope he chooses laughter over misery. I hope he chooses forgiveness over bitterness or resentment. I hope he chooses honesty over unscrupulousness.

I hope that he finds a person to share his life. I hope that he learns how to love, deeply and romantically. I hope that he feels the joy of parenthood. I hope that he remembers to be grateful for what -and who- he has. I hope he gives freely of himself, his time, love, money, knowledge, and presence, to others. Especially to children, whether he has his own kids or works to be a positive influence in the lives of kids who don’t share his name.

I hope that he looks back on his childhood and family life with fondness. I hope he forgives me for the mistakes I’ll inevitably make. I hope he doesn’t hate me for blogging about our lives, but sees the humor and fun and relief that it brought to me. I hope he will be happy, and I hope I’ll be there to see every minute of it.

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