I never pictured myself as a mother. I always thought I was going to end up living on a remote mountain surrounded by cats. Boy, was I wrong!

The Future Is Not Set In Stone

Life experiences shape and mold us in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine. Until we’ve lived through these experiences, it’s hard to know who we are and what the future holds.

My experiences have made me who I am today… the good, the bad, the indifferent – they all add up.

Some experiences lift us higher than the highest mountain. Others can impact and change us in ways that are truly unimaginable. Unfortunately, the burden of carrying the weight of the latter can often crush us in the blink of an eye.

I’ve lost friends to drugs, jail, mental illness, suicide, and a lot of other screwy things. My story could have easily had a similar ending. However, I was fortunate enough to learn how to carry the weight of my burdens without letting them crush me. I was fortunate enough to learn about choices.

It’s All About Choices

When I decided to have children, I knew it was no longer about me. Instead, it was about them.

I’ll be honest, having children is what changed me. No, wait… it saved me.

Boys

My children gave my life purpose and meaning. It forced me to look at my past and the choices I made. I was finally able to understand where I went wrong.

Just before my kids were born, I made a promise to myself that they would have a better life than I had – even if it meant exposing my demons. It was my responsibility to help guide them through the battlefield of life; to give them the tools required to navigate not only the good times, but also the bad.

Part of those tools included honesty.

I don’t hide who I was. My children know my past because I’ve always been honest about it. They know I was a loser. They know I made a lot of bad choices and have had a lot of fallout from those choices.

The truth is… I have many regrets. But, I also understand that every choice I made has lead me to this very moment in time. All of them; the good and the bad.

In fact, it’s the bad ones that are especially important. They are the ones that helped me grow and learn the most. They are the ones that – in a strange kind of way – made me a better parent… a better person.

In addition to being honest with my kids, it was also important for me to give them choices.

Give Your Children Choices

As parents, all we can do is give our children the necessary tools to succeed. They’re the ones who get to decide whether or not to use them. Not us. We can only encourage them; not force them.

A lot of people criticize how I raise my children. I’m the parent who – seemingly – let them get away with being lazy. I didn’t force them to help carry in the groceries, set the table, clean the house, etc.

Instead, I asked for their help. If they wanted to help – great! It was their choice to do so. If not, that was also their choice.

As you may have guessed… most of the time they walked away leaving me to deal with whatever task was up for grabs. After all, what kid wants to spend their time doing things they don’t want to do, right?

Travis-And-Jake

Flash forward a few years. I still don’t force choices on my boys, but an amazing thing has happened. My older son is now the first in line to carry in the groceries and lend a hand. I don’t ask. He just does it. It’s his choice.

My younger son? Well… he still walks away – most of the time – but sometimes… yes, sometimes… he helps. When he does, I thank him; I always thank him.

I think having them choose to help is way better than forcing them into doing something they don’t want to do. It’s more sincere. It means something, to both of us.

In Conclusion

We’re all different. We’ve all made our choices and will continue to make many, many more. Some will be good. Some will be bad. Figure out how you want to add it all up – and who you want to be – and go from there!

Because… in the end, we’re all just the sum of our choices.