Credit for a Child’s Accomplishments

I want to brag a bit on my youngest son. He’s the music director at our church and at every coffee hour, people walk up to me and say nice things.

“My, what a wonderful job your son is doing.”

“I could come to church just to hear him play.”

“I can’t believe our church has him.”

I beam. I swell. I nod my thanks.

These accomplishments are not my own, of course, but secretly, deep inside, I take credit. After all, I was the one who bought him musical toys. I was the one who color-coded the keys on his toy piano to match the notes in his first songbook. I was the one who advocated for piano lessons. I was the one who urged him to attend Foxboro High.

I was the one who said…

“Bishop Feehan might help you get into a better college, but, if you don’t spend your high school years playing music, you will have shut off an option. You can always go back to school and become an accountant. But if you want to have a chance of making it as a professional musician, you have to start right now.”

When he applied to college, I said. “You’ve got to major in music. Look at Greenspan. Sure, he might have ended up as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. But that was just his fall-back. He started as a jazz musician. You can always go back and study something else…”

I puff my chest out a little further, and pat myself on the back.

“Lov?” my husband inquires “Umm…what about me? I was the one who actually sat there afternoon after afternoon and made him practice…I was the one who joined the church choir to prove that music was a ‘manly pursuit.”

“Well….maybe.” I conceded gracelessly.

“And…” he continued. “What about Mr. Massey?…”

“Well…” I growled.

“…and his piano teacher who told him that he thought Greg could make it professionally? Not to mention the church.” he added, “Remember? He was the small boy with the beautiful voice? The star of every pageant?

“Well…” I sighed.

“And the aunt who gave him her piano? And…”

“All right, all right! I get it! It takes a village! Are you satisfied?” I replied crossly, wondering why husband’s always have to have the last word…

I decided to contemplate my wisdom in silence. After all, it was a virtuous circle. My youngest is not only making his mother proud, but he’s living the good life, giving back to the church that nurtured him. Our pastor had a vision, a vision of creating a music ministry, of hiring one person who could occasionally play the organ at the traditional service, lead the praise team at the contemporary service, direct the various choirs, and be an an integral part of the church team. They wanted someone who would work as part of the church staff to seamlessly blend music and worship. My son became that person.

He loves his job.

“Every meeting starts with a prayer.” he says in awe. “It’s a wonderful, caring atmosphere.”

And, the job pays enough so that, when supplemented by piano teaching and odd jobs, he can support himself and family. It lets him be here in Massachusetts, where his mother is. With his wife and baby. It’s very hard to describe just how much happiness that baby brings to his grandmother and grandfather. It’s an all too rare happy story. Every day, I thank God that I am living it.

But I also have other people to thank. This would be the people of Massachusetts in general, and Mitt Romney specifically.

Because without Romneycare, it all unravels. Without RomneyCare, my son could not possibly be the music minister at our church. Without RomneyCare, he could not have chosen to do what he loves, and also be a responsible husband and father.

This is because our church, like many small employers, can not afford to pay for health care. The expense per employee is much higher for a small church than that of a larger enterprise. If not for the state of Massachusetts providing my son the ability to buy into a larger insurance pool, he would never been able to consider taking the job.

The contractor who does such a great job on our house, couldn’t afford individual health insurance because the rates are so high; but the Mass health insurance system, exactly like ObamaCare, lets individuals purchase health care as part of a group. Thus, our carpenter (who is also an artist at heart) can also do what he loves and benefit society without seeking employment from a large corporation.

In fact, if not for RomneyCare, all that advice I just boasted about having given my son…I’d need to seriously revise…

“You blew it. Why did you ever listen to me? How could you have spent all those years just fiddling around? Why didn’t you study something practical?

“What are you going to do now? How can you go back to school and support a wife and child? What are you going to do the next time that baby gets sick?”

“I’m so sorry I gave you such bad advice….”

It’s would have been a very different storyline.

I am writing about this, and thinking about this because, right now in our nations capital, behind closed doors, 9 men and women are deciding this storyline for millions of families. They are deciding whether RomneyCare will move forward and be a blessing for the entire nation or whether it will be repealed.

They are deciding what future mothers can tell their sons and their daughters.

They are deciding if we can say…

“Go ahead, do what you love. Don’t worry about money. I trust you. And we live in a great country. It won’t let you down. You don’t have to compromise.”

Or if we need to say…

“Make sure you get a job where you make money. Make sure it comes with health insurance. Then do whatever it takes to keep it. It’s a hard world. Leave your Sunday school idealism in Sunday school. A real man provides for his family above everything else.”

I know that good people feel differently on this issue. I know that I should pray “God’s will be done.” But, I’m not. I’m praying that my son and I can stay in our rare happy story. And I pray that our nation moves forward to let non-Massachusetts parents also promise their children that here in the United States dreams can really come true.

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