I’m thinking of a hopeful future. I know my spouse and children deserve to choose their way, but it still helps me to see in my head how things might be and how, at that future date, I may have contributed. I’ve discovered I am someone who has to think in specifics, and so I’ll add some details, not implying that I would be disappointed if the details end up to be different; even if I do get some of the details right, I may be wrong about which ones belong to which person.
Here is what I see. My daughter is standing in the spotlight of a dark auditorium, her smart voice quivering (noticeable only to those who know her) through a commencement speech, followed by applause, not loud, but long — given more for how people think of her than for what she is saying. Then she picks up her diploma and looks back at us the whole way back to her seat with a smile that reminds us of the child she is today.
I’m thinking of my oldest son setting a college baseball hitting record and wanting us to be the first ones to know; he is also playing piano well enough to sit in on a jazz trio or play for a church meeting. His competitive spirit has found a way to escape through an assortment of activities: e.g. chess, baseball, cooking, karate, music, math, and running. His drive to be the first and the best will be complimented by our encouragement and support — affording lessons, driving to practices, attendance at events, and patience through the scary times when we realize we have lost a bit more control of him than we have now that he is a child.
I think of our next oldest boy (our third child) announcing that he has invented a new car propulsion system, that he has manufactured a light bulb by hand, and that his screenplay for a super-hero movie is going to be made into a movie. He is still the skinniest member of our family (and tallest — taller even than I), and through his example has helped us stay much more fit than we would have without him.
I hear our youngest boy just announcing to us that he will be hosting his own nationally syndicated interview show, having already established himself as someone who can make almost anyone feel at ease. Our family will get together and then spend half the evening just listening to him charm us with his stories. He will be the one that keeps us from taking things too seriously; the one who will make us laugh even at a funeral.
When each of our children finds someone they want to marry, or decides on their college major, or accepts a new job, they will be excited to tell us and introduce us to this new part of themselves. They will feel comfortable discussing their decisions with us.
Today when I walk through the rooms of our small ranch home, I envision walking through the house my wife wants, not because of its size or cost, but because we have learned to take care of it as a team and have reconciled that we must do more than just clean up our own messes.
I can hear her never hesitating to invite someone over because, though it isn’t perfect, our home is consistently presentable enough to give someone a tour. And when people tour it, they aren’t so impressed by the amount of space or cost of what it contains, but are instead impressed by how we have used the space, and the clever ways we have made it beautiful and practical. It is a safe place as well; it draws us to it when we feel alone or stressed like the smell of baking bread does to someone with hunger.
I see us with a financial plan that accounts for the rest of our life, past retirement and even past our own deaths. We won’t have all the money we need already, but we will have a plan for how we will get there, and we will follow the plan with discipline. Budgeting will be second nature to us and we will easily account for how much money we have at any given moment. Emergencies will come, but we will be prepared.
Most of all I see ourselves trusting each other, inspiring each other, forgiving each other, and making sacrifices for each other on a cycle that spirals upward and upward. These are the visions I want to hold onto — the one which will carry me through the times when I want to give up.