November never meant anything more to me than Thanksgiving until 3 years ago. Now, it holds so much more meaning, nostalgia, and love than just thanks for all that I have. My 2 sons were born in this month. It makes me reminisce and reflect on not just the last year, but the last 3, or more. In my children, I can't but help see a reflection of myself. I can't help but try to think of what I have done well, and what I should do differently to help shape their lives. I would do anything for them. No matter how they behave, or treat me, I will always do anything for them. Which brings me to one of the most profound things I learned during medical school - which was not even medically related.The psychiatrist I rotated with during 3rd year, was this wonderful Nigerian man. He was obviously well read, and enjoyed life. Most of all, he loved his [grown] kids. One day, in discussing the parent/child relationship, he made a statement I will never forget. He said, "Your children don't owe you anything, and you owe them everything. They did not ask to be here. You chose to bring them into this world. Therefore you are completely responsible for them and their well-being. This does not mean to take over their lives, but it does mean to provide them with everything necessary to succeed, and to never ask for anything in return."
Granted. My children are babies, so it is easy to not expect anything in return for all my efforts. But, the fact is, I never foresee acquiring that expectation. With a spouse, it is hard not to expect equal love, commitment, feelings, etc. With a child, you just don't care. For the rest of their lives, I will provide my children with meals if they are around for them. I will buy them birthday and Christmas presents. I will cheer them on in school, sports, careers, life. I will hug and kiss them, whether they like it or not. I will call them. Or give them space. I will happily, and proudly provide for and support them forever and always. And I will do my darnedest, to never expect anything in return, and hope that I have raised them well enough that they will say "thank you" anyway.