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At Toastmasters International, there is this fun little exercise we do called table topics.  You are invited to the front and are given a minute or two to speak about a randomly selected.  Yester night, we used pictures.  I pulled a photograph of a beautiful bridge, and my thoughts rushed out in the following manner.

Bridges are invaluable.

They connect two land masses that would otherwise be far apart and disconnected.  Bridges help travellers maneuver safely across deep rivers, wide outstretched lakes, and otherwise impossible terrain.

As parents, we are magnificent bridge builders!

Fathers and mothers build bridges.  As parents, we take hold of a tiny little collection of cells that miraculously emerges one day.  A collection that is vulnerable and trusting, with hands wide open to the numerous possibilities of living, and somehow help this collection of cells, mature into strong and majestic men and women.

We are bridge builders.  Every, last one of us.

But we are too tough on ourselves. 

I know I am.

Sometimes, all I see, is the sound of my raised voice.  My grunts and frustrations.  Don’t touch that.  Leave the dog alone.  Stop teasing your sister.  Will you just sit still, for one minute?

Sometimes, all I can see are my countless negative words and vexations.  I can see all the moments, when I have failed as a parent.  Moments when I didn’t notice.  Was too tired.  Forgot. Made mistake, after mistake, after mistake.

Sometimes.

Sometimes.

Other times, I see the bridge I am building.

You really cannot see it, when you’re building it, because it takes years.

You build in the pounding rain, and in the hot sun.   You build when you have energy and when you are exhausted.  You build in the fog, freezing snow, and in times of hurricanes and tornadoes. 

You dig foundations.  Redraw structural plans.  Dig again.  Build.  Redraw.  Build.  Redraw.  Repeat.

You cannot see the bridge.  You cannot see what it will meet to connect two land masses born apart.  You will only see it, and have a chance to admire it, when you get old, tired, and begin to see life from a distance.

As parents, we need to have patience with ourselves.  We need reminders and trust that we are building something magnificent.

We are connecting a human being, as unique as a snowflake, and an old, ancient and largely undiscovered world. 

This is a task never done before.  Not with this human being, and not by you.  We shoulder an awesome responsibility and are entrusted the task of being a bridge builder.

We can build great people, and it doesn’t just stop with our children.

We can build anyone, at anytime, anywhere.

We are bridge builders.

We have the sway to reach out to the lonely, shy, unhappy, sad, depressed, angry, and apathetic people.   

We can build a bridge.

We can reconnect them to the world.

Or we can criticize ourselves and do absolutely nothing.