Lessons I did not mean to learn

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So much of what I have learned in life was unwitting.

As a parent, this realization fills me with a strange combination of relief and chagrin.

Because I can’t seem to stop talking.

The teachable moments come fast and furious sometimes. I have so much hard-earned wisdom to impart about honesty, integrity, love (it’s a verb), a work ethic.

educationBut if I’m truly honest with myself, I have to admit that most of the lessons I learned from my parents, they taught me in deed. Not by preaching.

I turned a deaf ear to everything from how to properly dice a carrot, to not procrastinating.

The lectures, for the most part, did not stick. I was not open to receiving them.

But I could not help but watch my parents’ example. The way they lived. If their actions matched their words.

My appreciation for all things beautiful comes from my father’s artistic perspective. We took more nature hikes than you could shake a stick at. I saw the awe on his face when geese landed on a pond, rivaling fighter pilots in their precision landing. I observed the place settings, staging of food on a platter and occasional candles he would place on the dinner table when it was his night to cook.

Ah, I thought to myself, these things bring him joy. And unwittingly, I was taught how to find joy in the sun glinting on a lake, a well-folded napkin.

My drive comes from watching my mother make a career as an executive at a time women just weren’t doing that. She never lectured me on making it in a man’s world, working late, taking leadership positions outside of a 9 to 5 job. She just did it. She worked late when she had to and brought me to the office to wait it out. I watched her from the recesses of many an auditorium, as she gave speeches and won awards. I may have appeared to be quietly reading my book backstage, but I was soaking in what it took to pave your own path.

I see, I thought to myself. This is just what women do. And unwittingly, I was taught not to question my own qualifications if I knew I was up to a task, even when others did. Without a word, she taught me this. Women lead.

As I parent two boys who are growing up faster than I like to accept, I feel there is such little time to let them learn on me. To guide. And, with a teen in the house, I am more than used to someone turning a deaf ear.

So I remind myself, sometimes words are not necessary.

If I am consistent, if I live steadily on while being true to what I believe, they will see it.

Just as I did.

And the lessons will come, perhaps unwittingly. But, rest assured, they will come.