A recent conversation with my two good friends meandered toward a discussion of values, and how we determine those values that ring true for us.
If we determine that following our values and using them as filters for our daily decisions and behavior is the right thing to do, we must identify and list them, right?
integrity, selflessness, simplicity…
But how do we determine what our values are; who we want to be; what is most important to us personally, among all the deep and trendy words?
We certainly wouldn’t want to forget the important ones, or adopt someone else’s values without first making sure they are a perfect fit for us…
working hard, empathy, kindness…
My friend Kerri of Zen Zen•Plenty helped to make it clear for me that morning of our discussion. She verbally diagrammed how we might put together a sort of structure of our values. I’ll summarize (hopefully without butchering):
We may want to notice the values we admire in those we know, the values we respect and want to name for our families. We may appreciate specific values in others that we don’t feel need to belong to us.
strength of character, honesty…
Then there are the core heart values; the principles we maintain that provide the framework within which we build our lives. The values we want to share with our children. And it was how my friend said this next part that gives me chills to this day:
These core personal values we pin to our hearts and refer to daily and sometimes hourly are the ones our children will someday speak of when they say: “This is who My Mother was…” When we mamas are just a collection of treasured memories, echoes of a voice and a reminiscence of touch and tales, this is how they will remember us.
When we no longer take up physical space in our children’s lives ~ what do we want them to share with their great grandchildren? This is what cut straight into my heart and made such perfect and easy-to-apply sense to me.
“This is who My Mother was…”
The other night, this simple sentence occurred to me again ~ out of the blue, three days after our spontaneous value-talk that morning. It occurred to me so gently as I swayed my five year old son by his bedside, cupping his sweet bottom and kissing his neck. As I looked down on my seven year old son, drifting off to sleep in his bed, watching us sway.
I have had many moments lacking in peace with my boys ~ but that moment was pure peace and presence, and it was at that moment that that little gift of a thought occurred to me. It was a gift thanking me for my calmness in the ruckus that had occurred before this precious moment. It was a memory of a conversation with my girlfriends and how I had tucked those words away as something I wanted to really remember and really practice.
“This is who My Mother was…” This unfinished statement I will use daily to help guide my behaviors and choices. And the vision of my boys someday proudly sharing my life and my mothering with their children’s children can rest beside my vision of too-soon watching these two young sons thrive and grow into the caring and creative, well-nurtured and well-raised men I know they will become.
Because that is who my boys are.
above image: I Truly Believe (because I Truly Believe we can change the world by how we parent our children) you can grab a print of I Truly Believe here.