“I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” I shared this quote the other day on Instagram and it’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. For me, this quote puts things into perspective.
I am unbelievably lucky to have the life that I do with my three beautiful children and a husband I love and am so thankful for. But I can’t pretend that 2020 hasn’t been hard. I’ve missed my friends and extended family. I’m not a big traveler but I sure do miss Disney World. Zoom is great, but right now, all I want to do is have a big meetup with good food and dancing with some of my besties and laugh as though there isn’t a pandemic hovering over us.
Not only that but with heated and divisiveness of the election season, everyone is talking about money, and politics and religion and all those things we’re supposedly not suppose to talk about over dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the conversations, I just wish more were happing in person (six feet apart, with masks), and with more civility.
With so much going on in the world right now, there is this overbearing weight. A heaviness. I know I’m not alone in feeling this. So many people have reached out to me on social media, expressing the same kind of sentiments. They feel trapped, detached off as if somebody’s pressed a great, big pause button. It’s not a fun place to be.
“I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
This quote, for me, re-centers my thoughts. It reminds me of the struggles those before me have made the times when they overcame adversity to help me get to where I am today. My Great-Grandpa Griffin’s grandparents were slaves. Their strong blood is flowing through my veins. Those in my family line have suffered through pains and heartbreaks, which I’ll never be able to truly comprehend. Those emotions will always outweigh the doom and gloom I currently have. Reminding me that if they can handle that, I can handle this.
I think about my distant relatives often. I imagine, remember, and sympathize with those who came before me. I’ll then think of my kids; I even picture future grandkids and even great-grandkids. Then I think of myself, as the link connecting these two lines and ask myself what message will I be leaving behind to those next in line?
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Those before me paved the way for me to have the opportunities such as the ability to vote, to be free, to marry who I love. They helped me become a first-generation college student. They ensured the next generation would have better opportunities than they had. And the generation after did the same thing. Slowly, one step at a time, things improve. Now the world my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be almost unrecognizable from the world I, my parents, and my grandparents grew up in.
So what message can I leave behind?
What foundations can I build to continue this legacy? What exactly should I be teaching my kids?
I genuinely believe there is no definitive ‘”right” way to raise a child. Your child in some ways may seem like a mini-you. They might adopt your mannerisms and traits. As every parent knows, sometimes this is cute, and sometimes it’s irritating. How can you tell your little one off for stealing cookies out of the jar when you know you do that all the time yourself?!
But I’m also extremely aware that my children are NOT little extensions of myself. They’re their own people. I don’t expect nor want my children to be exact replicas of my husband or me. However, I want to help them build a strong foundation rooted in resilience, loving, accepting, and advocating for others.
I’m also teaching them about financial literacy and life-planning. I want to help them build generational wealth. To remember my enthusiasm for bridge-building and leading with love. I want that passion to fuel their dreams.
Just as my ancestors broke social, political, and financial barriers, I’d love my kids to make those next steps. Perhaps they will be the first in both our lines to NEVER go into debt. Maybe one will be the first to go to graduate school, study to become a veterinarian, or innovate some zero-waste technology.
I want them to know they can become anything they want to be. Nothing should stop them. But they’ve got to be aware that things weren’t always like this too. I hope they recognize and thank their ancestors, who first turned onto this path. My ancestors could never have imagined where this trail would end up, where I would end up, and I can’t wait to see the wildest dreams of my children come true too.