While I certainly don’t consider myself stupid or naïve, I would never say that I’m wise.
Wisdom is something I associate with ancient Greek philosophers and cartoon owls.
It’s such a high and unattainable attribute that I never really even think about it.
That changed in mid-April, when I met a friend of a friend on a chairlift at Breckenridge. This woman is a great skier, with bad knees. She’s also a Ph.D, scientist so I know she’s smart. I was commiserating with her on her knees, which now limit her skiing.
“Don’t you hate getting old?” I asked.
“No,” she replied. “I don’t mind getting old. I appreciate the wisdom.”
Her comment stopped me cold. I thought about it for the next two days.
My kids are old enough, that I am suddenly very conscious of the passage of time. “How can it be that my son will 18 in August?” I ask myself almost every day.
Caught up in high school academics and activities, our family is as busy as ever, yet as I told a friend recently, I feel like I’m coming out of a tunnel and I’m not sure who I will be when I exit.
I think of it this way: when my kids were born, I entered this space, this tunnel of light and love called motherhood. And while I’ll still be their mother, and I’m still ME, I am suddenly aware that they are nearly grown. My youngest just got his driver’s permit, and while he’ll be home another three years, the oldest is nearly out the door.
And I realize that I’m nearly out of the tunnel.
What is Wisdom?
Since I didn’t really know about wisdom, I decided to look it up. Here’s what I found:
Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight.
Reading this definition for the first time, it struck me that wisdom isn’t just for ancient Greeks (or adorable girls named Sophia), but rather it is something comes from living.
It’s not learning, per se, but learning from life, that gives us wisdom.
As parents, it’s learning from our mistakes.
It’s learning that while one child, at age 4, may respond passively to a time out, the other one may resist and run around the house, flaunting authority until we come up with an appropriate (hopefully, non-yelling) strategy.
It’s learning that while we want to believe that teachers and schools have our kids’ best interests in mind, when it comes to notifying us that Boy #1 (at age 9) has a badly sprained ankle from playground basketball, or requiring him to sit for a scheduled standardized test, the school will choose their interest over his and that we as parents had better redouble our vigilance.
It’s learning that my husband hates being asked “how was your day?” so I’d better not ask it.
And, it’s learning about what’s really of value – to me.
Which takes me back to Breckenridge, and the wisdom I received.
I was in Breck to work, to present a workshop during a multi-day conference. I was also there to ski with my family. And I was torn. While I’ll always (let’s be honest) choose skiing with my family over sitting in a meeting or conference room, I was feeling a bit lame for not caring about learning, listening or networking with the hundreds of meeting attendees.
And then I thought about wisdom. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that my family is of paramount importance to me. There is nothing more fun and rewarding than spending time with them. And while some days seem endless, that time is limited.
I can always network. I can’t always score a spring ski day at Breckenridge with my crew.
That’s what I’ve learned. That’s my wisdom. And I’m not apologizing any more for putting them first.
I’ve learned and I’m still learning.
Hopefully, I’m becoming wise.
- Reflections on Burn Out, Family Skiing and Giving Thanks, April 23, 2014.
- Hard Truths About Skiing with Teens. And Some Good News, Too. March 12, 2014.
- No Regret Parenting, September 9, 2013.
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