What I Want Most for You, My Child

What I Want Most for You, My Child

From Chicken Soup for Every Mom's Soul

What I Want Most for You, My Child

My son,

You sit before me at the kitchen table laboring over your ABCs. Your five-year-old brow is puckered in concentration, your pink tongue peeks out of your mouth. As usual you are fully immersed in the moment.

Yesterday you followed a gaily colored butterfly as it flitted from bush to bush. The day before that you were beside yourself in excitement as you romped in a mud puddle.

For you, who have changed your father’s and my life in ways you couldn’t imagine, what do I want most, my child?

There are days when I want you to reach great heights and conquer the world. Cure a disease, my son, I whisper to myself; write an immortal book; cross some new frontier for humankind. Ah, but you are being pushy and selfish, says a little voice within me.

And then there are days when I merely want you to be wealthy and successful. I want you to live in mansions, drive luxury cars and have exotic vacations. But that won’t mean he’ll be happy, says that chiding voice again.

So when I sit down and think in earnest, I realize my dreams for you have little to do with fame or money or worldly success. As I write down my thoughts, prayers and wishes for you, I am in danger of getting as mushy as the last of the cereal in the bowl that you say “ugh” to. But I will go ahead anyway.

May you always have the joy in living, the sheer enjoyment in things humble and inconsequential, that you— like most small children—have now. As we grow older our shoulders sag, our eyes glaze over and we busy ourselves in things mundane and wretched. May your spirit never get jaded so that the beauty around you escapes you, that the ability to wonder, to marvel leaves you.

I wish for you the greatest gifts any person can have: good health and the love of family and friends. May the scourge of loneliness never be upon you. Find a good wife, set up house and family, and find solace there from the world and its troubles.

We live in a time beset by the winds of change: some of it exciting, some of it strange and bewildering. In this fast, ever-changing, sometimes surreal world of technology, I hope you find within yourself a sense of balance, a sense of who you are separate from the machines around you.

We like to think that the happy man is one who has everything. But maybe, my son, the truly happy person is someone who is liberated from that feeling of “want, want, want,” which gnaws at one’s soul. I know this is a tall order, but I hope you won’t end up basing your happiness upon owning every gizmo and bauble on the market.

I am confident that you will find your place in this world. As you grow older, I hope that you will discover that there are things more precious than riches: to be able to laugh with a carefree heart, to sleep with an untroubled conscience, to have the thrill of achievement coursing through your veins. Hold onto these things greedily; never let them go. May you always stand tall and true and triumphant. No one else needs to know; no one else needs to applaud.

Most of all, may your world always be the iridescent bubble it is for you now.

You came into this world, and I thought I could mold you, shape you, teach you. Little did I know that I would be taught some important lessons about life as well. You jump out of bed every morning, my angel, and the day seems to stretch out before you with magical possibilities. You have no time to ponder over yesterday’s tearful tantrum, or fret about tomorrow’s dental appointment. Isn’t there a lesson in this for me, I wonder, to celebrate the here-and-now, instead of constantly looking over my shoulder at yesterday’s follies, or craning my neck toward tomorrow’s troubles?

I have knelt down beside you and tried to look out at the world through your shiny, ever-curious eyes. And I have learned that life is not a nonstop treadmill to be crammed with productive activities every minute of the day, but a colorful carousel to be savored and enjoyed with all the senses. Sometimes the laundry, the to-do list, the e-mail can wait. I’ve realized it is all right to waste a little time, to lie on your back on the grass on a spring day and look up at the white cotton-candy clouds wafting in the blue sky. It’s all right to lie on your stomach side by side with your child and look down an air vent in your kitchen and imagine the weird monsters lurking down below.

You are and will always be my most precious treasure, my biggest achievement and my proudest legacy.

Saritha Prabhu

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