It was my daughters 11th birthday last Saturday and it didn’t hit me until today, when I read a post about leaving your legacy by the lovely ladies from Ask Ajna, how fast time has gone by. It feels like it was yesterday (yes, so much cliché) when I found out I was pregnant, gave birth 9 months later and even when she took her first steps. While it feels like yesterday, it has been 11 years and in those 11 years we have been through ups and downs in life. We have moved more than once and across continents too! We have been through deployments, divorce and the mental illness of family members. We have been through thick and thin and today it hit me. We are past half of her childhood and I feel like I missed most of it.
She is a gifted child, is in the gifted program at school and tested off the charts. Naturally curious, learns with ease and has insight some grown-ups don’t have (including me as you’ll learn throughout this post). She has high goals for life and a plan that will carry her for years to come. Because of this, it’s easy to forget that she is only 11. As a parent I want the best for my children, I want to set them up for success, ready them for failure and give them the tools to succeed in life. I don’t want them to have to face the struggles I had to face. While I have learned from every fall, picked myself back up and succeeded, I don’t think that some things need to be repeated for the sake of learning and character building. But today I realized, I may be setting her up for failure. A friend told me a story last night I’d like to share with you. I think it was the first domino that fell and set todays thought process in motion.
The Carrot, Egg and Coffee Stew.
A little girl walked in the kitchen with a sad face. Her mom asked her why she looked so gloomy and the little girl said “Life. Mom, life is hard and cruel and I am saddened and upset by all the bad things that happen in life.” Her mother nodded. As the girl was watching, the mother placed a pot on the stove, filled it with water. While the water heated up, the mother gathered carrots, eggs and coffee beans. When the water boiled the mother added the carrots, the eggs and the coffee beans to the pot. The little girl became irritated with her mother and said: “MOM, I was hoping for advice, a life lesson, anything but watching you cook things that don’t go together!” Her mother smiled and asked her for a little more patience. After a while she took out the eggs and said: “The boiling water is life. Life can have different effects on different things. If you are an egg, life will make you hard. The longer you stay in the boiling pot of life, the harder it becomes until it may or may not crack.” Then she took out the carrots: “If you are a carrot, life will make you soft and mushy. There is nothing wrong with the carrot or the egg. Each just react different to the boiling pot of life. One makes you hard, the other makes you soft and vulnerable.” Next she showed the little girl the pot of water, now coffee. “Finally look at the boiling pot of life. While the egg and the carrot were changed by the water that’s life, the coffee beans changed the water that’s life. The coffee beans didn’t change. They were the change. Who they were, seeped out and had an effect on everything. It changed the water that’s life and touched the carrot and egg because they absorbed some of the coffee as well.” Smiling, she hugged her daughter. “Life may be hot and tough, life may be able to change people, but if you are a coffee bean, you will change life and everything in it.”
Last night, I realized I am a soft boiled egg. Soft on the inside and hard shell on the outside. I protect myself and what’s in me from life. I should be a coffee bean. I also think my daughter already has that wisdom and has always been a coffee bean. A coffee bean protected by an egg carton. Go ahead and laugh, I had to.