Becoming a Person

A few weeks ago, a friend wrote, “Don’t Blink” on her Facebook page when her son turned twenty. She told new parents that, however cliché, it’s really true: time passes all too quickly and your little one grows up in the blink of an eye.

Today it’s my turn. It’s my son’s birthday, and he’s turning twenty. I remember when he was an infant and his Aunt Judy visited. She would gaze at him sleeping in his crib and say that he was growing so fast–“He’s becoming a little person.” I thought it was a funny thing to say at the time, but today it makes complete sense.

Somewhere along the way, my baby boy became a full-fledged person. He doesn’t like me to write about him, which I totally get (and I hope I’m not crossing a line here). I think it’s enough to say he’s become the kind of person I would totally want to hang out with, even if he wasn’t my son.  And for that, I feel immensely blessed.

Although it’s tempting, I don’t take much credit for the way he’s turned out. I’m not saying that in a self-deprecating way—I certainly believe Greg and I have been good enough parents. But I’ve known other great parents who did all (or most of) the right things, too, and their kids got lost along the way. Most of us do our best to love, protect and guide our children, but there are so many factors outside of our control.

Carl Rogers, widely considered as one of the most influential psychologists in American history and the father of “humanistic psychology”, wrote a classic text called, On Becoming a Person. In it, he describes his ideas about what a rich and full life entails. He writes: “This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one’s potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life.”

So here’s to stretching and growing and courage. And here’s to launching our kids out into the world.

May they be safe; may they be healthy; may they be happy; may they be free of suffering.