When I was young and thought I was all grown up, a man named Harvey Hopkins, who was probably wiser then than I ever will be, told me that the day we stop learning and growing is the day we start dying. I was in my late twenties at the time. I’d fallen in love and married in haste, had three kids and been abandoned to bring them up on my own. My attitude was, “been there, done that” and what else is there to learn?
Well, raising three kids, eventually four, corrected that misguided idea. Among other things, I learned that raising a son has challenges you don’t anticipate for the simple reason that you are a woman and girls don’t think the way boys do. It was easier to guide my daughters to adulthood, sharing of my own hard learned lessons. Understanding my son took some serious thinking “Outside the box.” Kids don’t come with manuals regardless of gender. Every stage of their growing years brings new challenges. And guess what? My children are all adults now with children of their own and I’m still learning new things about parenting. That the job isn't over when they reach adulthood. Their triumphs will always be your pride, their joy will always bring you happiness and their pain will always be the hardest thing you'll ever have to bear.
I also learned that I’m strong and I’m a survivor. I made mistakes and grew wiser. I weathered the storms life threw at me and grew stronger. I learned I’m not always right and it’s smart to listen to other points of view. I learned how to say I’m sorry and admit to my mistakes. I learned that my faith is not just something that happens on Sunday, but lives with me every moment of every day. And I learned to enjoy every moment, because all too quickly, those moments will pass.
A few things I’d like to add to Harvey’s advice: One is a quote from George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing.” So get out there and play. Live and learn every day. If you don’t already have one, make a bucket list. Put everything you ever thought of doing on it. Even the things that don’t seem possible. It’s good to have dreams, and it’s good to dream big. Travel while you can. See things that fill you with wonder. Make new friends wherever you go, help others whenever you can – the more you give of yourself the more there is to give. Be optimistic. Be a Pollyanna. Keep your mind and your heart open and never stop growing.