Leading by Example

Leading by Example

I hadn’t anticipated cookies bringing me an amazing compliment, but they did.

The compliment wasn’t about the cookies . . . though they are pretty damn good, if I say so myself.

No . . . a family friend had stopped by to take possession of some school uniforms I was paying forward to another family who might need them.  I offered up a bag of cookies I had made just an hour before since I had plenty of dough for more.

This led to a discussion of how things had been over the last year.  I mentioned that I hadn’t destroyed a load of laundry in awhile.

“Your kids will be so well adjusted, though,” they told me.

The reason behind this was the fact that, without assigning my kids duties or chores, we all just sort of end up having to do things.  I don’t pay my daughter to babysit, but she got a nice birthday present to see a band she loves.  My oldest, helping me with research on a documentary, got to see Kenneth Branagh perform Macbeth in New York.  My middle daughter watches the boys when I work and my boys know to do dishes and take out the garbage.  They all three will come and help me to put dinner together.  The boys will set the table.  We’ve kind of hit a routine.  Now . . . is the house clean, the tables dusted and everything ship-shape?  Umm…no.  Not by a long shot.

I don’t care, though.

We have a great opportunity to move around and do things and enjoy ourselves as much as possible while still doing the “responsible” things.  Many of the things we do we’d never have attempted when my wife was alive.  It’s not a reaction to doing the opposite of what we did when she was around it’s a way to do things we have always wanted.  Maybe she’d have loved every minute of it, or fought every step of the way.  We know what things she’s have done and laugh about how she’d have reacted.  We also get slightly melancholy when we see something and say “Mom would have loved this!”

At the end of the day, though, my example isn’t really mine.  I’ve said that before.  I took the example my parents gave me . . . modified it . . . then tried to do the best I could alone.  I cook our meals, make our treats and do everything I can to help them succeed.

So when I made cookies in anticipation of their getting home from visiting their grandparents tomorrow it wasn’t too different for me.  But for our family friend, it was an example.  It wasn’t impressive to them.  In fact it was abundantly clear that it made them so very happy that we seemed to be thriving.

So my example may be different from a lot of others’ examples.  It certainly is, I know, by the simple fact there’s only one parent.

So will my kids be well-adjusted?  I honestly don’t know, time will tell.  But I’m doing my best . . . for good or ill . . . and hope the example I set will give them the tools to succeed.

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