I once saw a short film, which featured the story of a watchmaker and his young son.
The story followed the watchmaker as he meticulously crafted a small watch; carefully putting together each piece. As the man worked, his young son came to him, asking if he’d like to play outside. The father brushed away the small boy, who walked away…dejected.
The story continued as the boy grew older; approaching his father in a graduation gown, only to be pushed away. The scenario repeated itself a few times until the boy grew into a man.
Now a grown man, the man walked up to his father, who proudly offered him the watch. Accepting the watch with a bitter smile, the man walked away. The father eventually grew old, at which point he passed on his watchmaking tools to the grown man.
The man, now married, sat down to work at the bench and begin the craft passed down to him by his father. Eventually, he had a child. Soon, the child came to the side of his father-at-work and asked if he’d be willing to play outside.
Rather than brush the boy away, the father puts away his tools and steps outside to play with his son. End of story.
The tale is a powerful one about time, family, and the value of love. It’s also about priorities.
I’m a big believer in being able to provide a good life for your family. However, as somebody who grew up in a household of six children – and still has a vibrant inner child – I now see the value of time more clearly than before.
In many cultures, especially the American one, being a ‘good’ parent is masqueraded as being able to send your kids to the best schools, outfit them with designer labels, and have ample room in a large house for them to spend their childhood years.
The most precious memories with my parents didn’t involve any of these things. Rather, it was the moments where they would spend 1-on-1 time with me, and make me feel special, appreciated, and loved.
Frankly, children don’t have the mental firepower to understand the concept of sacrifice.
E.g. a child will never be able to fully grasp a financial sacrifice a parent makes in order to put a pair of Jordans on their feet, or take on a 30-year mortgage so the child can live in a 4BR house.
What a child can understand is the value behind time. Nothing was more priceless than when I spent time alone with my parents and they included me in their life. As a child, I never understood that my Mom was headed to the post office to pay a bill that our family often struggled to pay. What I did see was the time spent with my Mom.
My Dad never blew hundreds of dollars on me at the mall, or bought me a car for my 16th birthday (I got my license at 19, FYI). What made my Dad my hero, to me, was when he’d let me sit in the family room and watch him lift weights as Breakfast blared through his sound system.
“Here, you try!” He’d tell me, allowing me to try and pick up a weight, which he seemed to move with ease. Unable to lift the weight, that’s when my little heart decided that my Dad really was Superman.
Now in my 30’s, I can finally understand the sacrifice that both of my parents made in their lives. It would have been really easy for my Mom to send her six children to public schools, work a job, and ‘upgrade’ our family to a comfortable dual-income suburban life.
Yet, that’s not what happened. Mom stayed at home to raise the children, while my Dad worked as an IT consultant to provide for our family. When I look back at the amount of income our family lived on, I marvel at how they were able to do it. Really.
I’m especially thankful for every sacrifice, tear, and moment of time that each of my parents invested into the lives of their children. Their example has been a shining light for me as I continue to navigate through my adult life; helping me see the true value behind things like sacrifice, time, and money.
Yesterday, I received a package from my Mom. Inside were a few postcards, replacement debit cards, a story from Readers Digest, and a card she hand-wrote me. It was a simple gesture of love, until I looked at the shipping cost; over $65.
As an adult, I can now understand the type of financial sacrifice this was for Mom, who works as a teacher. Yet, I can now pair this measure of sacrifice with the unconditional love that she’s always had for her children.
It’s this kind of love that has changed my world, while humbling me at the incessant love that Mom continues to pour out for her children.
Some people, all they have is money. For people like my Mom, I see a true hero on the world.
Thanks, Mom. For everything.