I’m thinking about one of the biggest moments in my life. I don’t remember my exact age, I think I was nine or ten. We had just finished Sunday lunch and I’d had a piece of chocolate cake for dessert. I asked my Mom if I could have another piece of cake.

As she pondered the answer, my Dad, who I didn’t realize was even paying attention to the conversation, said “He’s big enough to decide for himself it he wants another piece.” My chest seemed to swell to twice its size. It was hard to eat that extra piece of cake while grinning from ear to ear.

At the time, somehow, I knew it was a turning point in my life. What I didn’t know was how much of my belief system would stem from that moment and be based on that principle. With that simple statement, my independence took root. Looking back, I know my Dad made the statement with complete clarity of what he was telling me. I know that he was purposefully handing me the reigns to my future.

My Dad treated a word the same way he treated a dollar – like there was a limited number and you’d better save every one you could for the future. When he talked, it mattered. His investments in me continue to shape my life and I hope I am spending my words as wisely with my kids. I hope that I’ve not only given them the reigns to their own lives, but also imparted the gift of independence to them. One without the other is like trying to steer your horse with only one reign.

Throughout my life, I’ve eaten way more extra pieces of cake than I should. The important thing is that I always realize it’s my choice and the consequences are also mine to deal with. I expect I’ll always choose another piece of cake and choose to have no dessert the next time. That keeps my life in balance.

Thank you Mom for baking a cake that I had to have more of. Thank you Dad for making it my choice.

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