Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once.
Norman Vincent Peale
For some reason this year, March is making me think of promise. Maybe I’m inspired by the promise of all the flowers that are springing up all around me. It also makes me think of the promise we make to the child to whom we have given birth: I will always take care of you and keep you from harm. I will make sure that you are rocked and cuddled and fed and that your diapers are changed. I will do my best to give you a life filled with joy.
I know that we can’t always keep those promises to our children. Someday they will see our weaknesses and that, occasionally there is pain and sadness in life. But when we make a promise or an implied promise to a child, we need to keep it.
I remember as a young child, my parents promised me something and didn’t deliver. It made me so sad. I have always tried to keep my promises to my children because I remember to this day how it felt to have a promise broken. When I could not keep a promise to my child I would always explain why.
When we promise a child that if they are good, we will take them to the playground and then don’t do it, that is a promise broken. When we tell a child that she will have a time-out for bad behavior, and we don’t follow through, she will think it doesn’t matter what she does. When we tell a friend we will take her to lunch, and we don’t do it, it is another promise broken. When we tell a spouse or significant other that we will be back at 9 then return home at 10? You guessed it!
We make promises to make someone happy or to ease our own guilt. Sometimes I don’t think ahead when I make a promise and later I realize I can’t or don’t want to do it. There have been times when I have broken my promise. I always feel guilty because I like to think that my word is my bond.
There is a promise that I have made to my ten, seven, and four year old granddaughters and that is to take them to Disneyland. They know that I took the oldest when she was only four. My granddaughters remind me constantly that I still need to take them. “You promised,” they say in unison.
Now in hindsight, I should have thought this through and not made this particular promise because it is going to be a lot of expense and hard work to take three little girls to Disneyland.
But a promise is a promise, no matter how big. And just maybe if I promise their mothers something wonderful, I can convince them to go too.