I'm an incredibly lucky guy. In fact, the more I think about it, I feel sure I might just be the luckiest guy in the world.
Wait. Don't say anything yet.
I promise you'll get your chance to speak.
Why am I so lucky? For starters, we have four amazing kids. Take Brandy: She's smart, independent, finished grad school, and has a self-confidence that I can only dream of. Not only is she unafraid to add purple highlights to her extremely blonde hair, she somehow makes it work. (Me, I've had the same dorky haircut for about 30 years.)
Or take Patricia: She's smart, bubbly, swam in college, and is likable and caring to a degree I could only hope to be; whenever I run into people who know her, they invariably say, "You're Patricia's dad? I love Patricia!" (Show me a parent who doesn't get all warm and fuzzy hearing that.) Plus, she's the mother of our first grandchild. (He's pretty awesome too.)
"Hey, wait a minute..." you start to say.
But I cut you off. It's not your turn to speak. Not yet.
Connor was all-region in football and soccer, was a stronger cyclist than me even after he'd only been riding for a couple of months (yep, that was depressing), also has incredible self-confidence, and is excelling as a pre-med student. (Me, I was a communication arts major, at the time the major of choice for those who decided not to make a real choice.)
Then there's Faith: has never gotten a B on a report card, regularly gets perfect scores on her SOLs even in subjects she doesn't particularly like (here's looking at you, language arts), plays volleyball, soccer, and was all-state in track...even though she skipped a grade and is a year younger than her classmates.
"Fine, but wait a minute..." you start to say. Sorry. It's still not your turn.
My wife was a director of finance for a Fortune 500 company, changed careers so we didn't have to move, earned a second degree while simultaneously getting an MBA (one semester she took 29 total credit hours across both programs), then went off to learn to put people to sleep (in a good way.) And she's a tenure-track professor. And she raises our family. And she's beautiful.
"OK, now just freaking wait a minute..." you try to interrupt. Hang on. It's almost your turn. But not quite yet.
I could share a million things about my parents but I'll just say this: Every time I called asking for help--more often and much later in my adult life than I should have--they only said one thing, "What do you need?" And then they always came through.
There. Told you. I may be the luckiest person in the world.
"OK, that's enough!" you yell, and this time I don't interrupt. "Yeah, you're really lucky. Yeah, your family sounds great. But my family is great too. My kids are awesome too. My spouse is wonderful too. My parents could not be finer people. Plus...."
I let you go on this time, because you know what?
You are absolutely, totally right.
To you, my family is no better than your family. In fact, you feel your family is better than mine--a lot better.
After listening to me brag about how great I have it, you can't help but respond that your life, in all its variety and richness, is way better than my life.
And that is exactly how you should feel.
Why? You know your kids. You know what makes them special. The same is true for your spouse, your parents, your extended family, your friends...you see them in ways no one else can ever see them. You know them in ways no one else can ever know them.
You're justifiably, indisputably proud.
So you keep defending them.
"Look," you say. "They have other great qualities too. My son volunteers...."
And then I cut you off one last time.
Why? I don't need to hear it...but the people you care about? Your wife, your kids, your extended family, your friends, your employees...?
They do need to hear it: each and every one of them.
So don't tell me how lucky you are. Don't tell me how wonderful you feel the people in your life are.
As often as you possibly can.
Because you are the luckiest person in the world...and it's time you realize it.