If I told you I don't want my kids to be "happy" in life, would you look at me a little sideways? Think, what kind of mother says that about her children? Surely I must be joking. But see, I'm not.
Do I want them to be happy in general? Sure. It's not like I want my kids to be miserable and suffer their entire lives. But is that all I want them to be? Just happy?
A lot of self-righteous jerks are "happy."
I've heard people say "the only thing they wish for their children is happiness." And I know it's said with good intentions, but for me, I wish much, much more than happiness for my kids.
So what do I wish for them?
I wish my boys pain. I want them to skin their knee sliding into third base. I want them to experience the loss of a pet. I want their first girlfriend to break their heart. I want them to be told by some asshole coach that they aren't good enough. I want them to lose out on a dream internship because they didn't put in enough effort. I want all of these things for them so that they know life isn't fair. There will be disappointments and sadness. I want them to know without a doubt that nothing ever comes free, and I want them to know the power of hard work.
I wish my boys suffering. I pray to God it isn't in the form of sickness or disaster, but in a way that makes them stronger. No worthy success ever came without some form of suffering. I want them to suffer through the hardest parts of their life, I want them to endure the suffering so completely that when they make it out, they can look back and feel like they can handle anything the world throws at them. One of my favorite quotes about this subject is from a wise man named Kahlil Gibran, where he said "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." I want my boys to have scars.
I wish my boys struggling. I don't want anything to come easy for them. I don't ever want them to think they can coast on their parents' success. If I've said it once I've said it a million times: even if we become millionaires (not likely), our boys will not get a huge inheritance. They will have to make their own way in life. Will we help them out here and there in small ways? Of course. But I want my boys to know that the only way to success is by hard work.
I wish my boys perseverance. When that asshole coach tells them they aren't good enough? I want them to dig deep inside and push harder. I want them to know that they are in control of their own destiny, and no one can tell them what they can and cannot do. When they fall hard, I want them to get up harder. I want my boys to never take no for an acceptable answer.
I wish my boys humility. I want my boys to know that no matter how good they are, there is always someone out there who is better. I never want them to think they are the "star" of a team, because without their team, they are useless. I want them to appreciate being at the very top, because I want them to know that at any moment, they can fall to the bottom. I want them to know that they can always learn from someone else, and that they are never done learning. And I want them to know they are powerless without God.
I wish my boys respect. I don't care if they are the last ones on Earth who think it's important, they had better always open doors for women and the elderly. Listen in courtesy to people in authority. You may not always agree, but listen anyway. Always take your baseball hat off when the national anthem is sung and while you're at it, put your damn hand on your heart.
I wish my boys empathy. I want them to be able to put themselves in other peoples shoes. I want them to know that the people who seem to deserve it the least, need love the most.
I wish my boys influence. I want them to inspire others. I want them to bring people up. I want them to be the ones who stand up for the person being bullied. I want people to look at my boys and strive to live their lives the same way. I want the words that come out of their mouths to count. I want them to be a leader and to lead people to the light.
And finally, I wish my boys happiness. Yes, I want my boys to know happiness beyond measure. I want their hearts to be filled with so much joy that it feels like it might burst. I want them to laugh hard and often. I want them to have a spouse, kids, grandkids, great grandkids and to have an overflowing table come Thanksgiving. I want them to live a life so when they are on their last minutes here on Earth, they can look back at all the years and know they were spent well. To know they were spent with honor and integrity. That all their pain, suffering and struggling wasn't wasted.
THAT is the kind of happiness I wish on my children.
SEE ALSO: A Letter To My Boys