I just left a small software conference and heard something very refreshing. The CEO/President and the Chairman opened the conference up with a pretty typical state of the company speech. What was refreshing about it was that during their opening remarks they said that over the past year they had made some mistakes, the made some misjudgments, they had stated anticipated changes and made decisions that had not come to fruition. All of the consultants there knew that already, but it was refreshing for them to say that, and to own it, it gave us a respectful perspective. We quickly moved on, now that it was dealt with, and the entire conference was very positive and successful.
I laid down that night and thought about Andrew, like I do every night. I made him promises and told him what I was going to do during his life. Told him how I was going to raise him and protect him. Promised him the sun and the moon. Of course he was only a few days old, and probably didn’t understand much of what I said, but I still made him promises. And to make is worse, I reiterated these promises throughout his life. To stand by him and to support him throughout his life, no matter what he did, no matter how he turned out. Now I am here, alone, staring at the darkened ceiling knowing that we never fulfilled these promises. Some of them he was too young for us to fulfil. Others we just never did. While many others we did fulfil in the short time we had him.
The other part was a little harder to face. Mistakes.
Andrew – I made mistakes during your life. Some of them caused you pain, some of them made you cry, other just made me cry. Some of them were obvious, while others were only visible in hindsight. But I definitely made mistakes. All parents make mistakes, we are not perfect, and raising a child is an on-the-job learning experience. We learn as we do, and as you grow. Maybe we learned a little too slow, or a little too late.
Most parents have a lifetime though to correct their mistakes. Or at least to make right by them. They talk to their children, they discuss what happened and they move on. Their mistakes become learning experience and help them as their kids grow up. Your mom and I don’t have that chance – and it sucks.
Most of the mistakes are small. Insignificant in the course of a lifetime. I always drove fast – and you learned by watching me from the back seat, which probably explains why you got let’s say more than one speeding ticket. I am sorry I didn’t slow down and set a better example for you. I know I upset you when I argued with someone over insignificant things, like a bad hotel room or a price discrepancy – and I tried not to when I was around you – but I did it way too often. I know it’s too late to teach you better, but you will be glad to know that I really don’t do that much anymore. You have taught me to be much more compassionate, patient, and understanding. Unfortunately too late for you to appreciate it. But I know you know you have changed me for the better.
In the grand scheme of your short life, I know these broken promises and mistakes are minor. I know you had a great life, I know you know you were loved and cared for and your mom and I did our best to raise you – and we are doing our best to raise Nicole. I know these mistakes were insurmountably outweighed and outnumbered but your positive experiences, and I am at peace with this. I can close my eyes and recall the good memories. But I wanted you to know that I am truly sorry for these mistakes. Hopefully one day, somehow, you can let me know you forgive me.
All parents make promises that get broken. All parent make mistakes. But it is those of us who can put them into perspective and make them relative, who can properly love our children and grieve for them unconditionally. We cannot dwell on the promises we broke, the mistakes we make, the unspoken apologies – for they are in the past. We must remember our children, remember the good, remember the love, and hold on to that as we move one foot in front of the next.