I was so happy the other night when I stumbled upon this post by a blogger named Victoria, who had the genius and touching idea of interviewing her mom and sharing her advice with her readers. I highly recommend you check it out!
And, because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I became instantly giddy about doing something similar with my own parents. Especially since it’s Father’s Day. Can you think of anything more timely and perfect??? (No, of course not!)
I have never had a day when life with my parents hasn’t felt like home. Never. Isn’t that kind of crazy? And what I can very proudly and confidently say is that they have consistently been very good at advising me re: this whole life-living-thing.
Partially due to my own curiosity, and partially in an effort to share their loveliness in the hopes of encouraging others, I did my own mini-interview. My dad is a retired high school principal, and my mom is a retired school counselor. These facts are relevant for the sake of providing the following context:
- Their jobs literally existed as a means to help young people through this whole “growing up” thing.
- They are still clearly in administrator mode, because I gave them this assignment at 4pm today and said “finish it whenever!” I received their responses at 8:48pm.
So, since my parents still clearly believe in getting your homework done early, HERE WE GO.
Q1: What qualities do you hope I’ll always look for in other people?
- Mom: Integrity, kindness, trustworthiness, a good and caring spirit, ambition
- Dad: The quality that I hope you will always look for in other people is “Kindness.” That is the indispensable trait for relationship happiness. I want the people in your life to be kind to you, even as you deal with all of the emotions that relationships bring.
Q2: What’s the best advice you ever received, and why?
- Mom: My mother told me about 35 years ago that people who don’t have dust on their furniture don’t have anything else to do (except keep a clean house). That statement was very liberating for me.
- Dad: The best advice I ever got is a toss-up. My grandmother told me that “you cannot reason with a fool, so don’t let them waste your time.” That has worked very well for me. The second piece of advice came from one of my managers at IBM. He told me, “Do what you love… The money will come.” That’s worked for me, too. Take your pick.
Q3: How old were you when you finally started to feel like an adult?
- Mom: 30.
- Dad: I became an adult at the age of 18. I joined the Marines, my parents got divorced, and I never lived at home again.
Q4: What do you think it means to love someone?
- Mom: To accept them as they are and to help them become their best selves. To do what you can to bring joy to their lives.
- Dad: Love is “when the happiness of another is essential to your own.” When you feel that way about someone, it does not matter if they are male, female, sister, brother, mother, father, friend, lover, child, whoever… You can honestly tell them “I love you.” One more thing: don’t confuse passion, desire, or sexual ecstasy for “love.” They are truly two different things!
Q5: What is your proudest accomplishment?
- Mom: Raising a self-sufficient, independent, smart, caring, passionate and compassionate daughter.
- Dad: My proudest accomplishment is the relationship I have with my daughter. I do not take it for granted. I am much too aware of relationships gone wrong between fathers and their children. My relationship with you gives me a peace that I could find in no other way.
**Ok, sobbing a little bit but I promise I didn’t coach those answers out of them!
Q6: What’s your advice for the brokenhearted?
- Mom: Hang in there. It will get better. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s ok – sadness, anger, frustration, relief, fear, anticipation. It’s all ok.
- Dad: My advice for the brokenhearted is to endure the pain for as long as it lasts, because there is no escaping it. However, realize that, in time, the pain will go away. Have faith in the future. Have faith in yourself, and realize that others will see the good in you. There will be more relationships, and make sure that you are emotionally prepared to make the most of them when they present themselves.
Q7: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about life so far?
- Mom: You can’t control everything that happens, so make the best of your circumstances and be thankful for every day. Count your blessings. Find joy in the little things because the big things don’t come often. Laughter is the best medicine. Good friends are priceless.
- Dad: I don’t know what the MOST important thing that I’ve learned about life is. Perhaps I can honestly say that love is the most essential emotion I have experienced. Yes, I think I can defend that!
Q8: If there’s one thing you hope that I’ll always remember, what would it be?
- Mom: My name. After my mother no longer knew who I was (due to dementia), I don’t think I can deal with another loved one forgetting who I am. Also that I love you unconditionally. (<3333)
- Dad: I want you to always remember that your father loved you more than he loved himself. When you are happy, when you are sad, or angry, or frightened, I want you to remember that. When you are 90 years old, I want you to remember that, and every time you do, I want you to smile. (<33333 x’s 2.)
Q9: I’ve been granted the luxury/blessing/miracle of being able to call you whenever I need advice. But if you could leave anyone who reads this with a few words of wisdom, what would they be?
- Mom: Life as you know it can change in an instant. Enjoy life and be good to people.
- Dad: Everybody needs their “person.” Know who your “person” is. Know who you can really trust, who really understands you, who can make you laugh, who you can talk to without thinking about what you are going to say before you say it. Build that relationship. Cherish that relationship. Never let it go.
So…yeah. I’m gonna go feel all the warm and fuzzies now. I hope this snippet of my parents’ advice helps you the way it has always helped me. And, in parting, I hope you know it’s ok when we don’t have all the answers, that there’s a reason why we’ve been blessed with people who can coach us in those moments, and that you are never, ever truly alone.