“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” (from Hamilton: An American Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda)
I finally jumped on the Hamilton train. It’s a runaway train. I can’t stop listening to it. History told in melodic poetry has that effect on me, it seems.
My initial emotional response was tangled up in the idea of legacy—the narrative of our lives.
Legacy is such a heavy word. Every bright-eyed graduate wants to step out into the world and make a difference. The drive to leave a legacy guides us to our occupations. It directs how we spend our energy and our resources.
Every parent knows the weight of legacy grows each time you accept a new child into your home. The pressure to create a memorable childhood, to instill values into the next generation, to be a mother your children will rise up and call blessed—it’s too much sometimes.
Legacy Lessons from Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton built his legacy as a Founding Father. After serving courageously in the Revolution, he helped construct our newborn government. The ink from his pen helped write the story of our democracy.
You’ll come of age with our young nation
We’ll bleed and fight for you
We’ll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you
We’ll give the world to you and you’ll blow us all away*
Does parental legacy require such magnanimous accomplishments? Do you feel the pressure to do the big things in order to leave your fingerprint?
As I let the concept of legacy simmer in my mind, the weight of the brevity and value of life adds to the heaviness I already feel pressing down on my shoulders. A friend experienced her first Christmas without her husband. Biopsy results sit in a medical chart waiting for another friend. Lindsey lost her brother-in-law after only twenty-two years of a life well lived. Family friends gathered around a tree without the “baby’s first Christmas” ornaments that should have been there.
Legacies are built on the big things like establishing a national banking system. Legacies are also built by the small things: reading to your child every night, teaching a little one how to handle frustration, taking your tween out for some special mother-daughter time, inviting your kids’ friends over for a New Year’s Eve bash.
Human connection builds legacies.
When I am tempted to be distracted by dings and pings from my phone…
When I feel discouraged by the time I spend training and retraining my children…
When dissatisfaction makes my life feel too small…
When responding to my child’s requests with a no becomes easier than yes…
I will remember the words of the rapping and rhyming Alexander Hamilton:
Don’t be shocked when [my kids] mention me
I will lay down my life if it sets us free…
And I am not throwin’ away my shot
I am not thowin’ away my shot*
Today is a page in your story. How do you want it to read? What will your family remember? What will shape and influence the people around you?Today is a page in your story. How do you want it to read? #legacyClick To Tweet
These questions shape our legacy. They guide us as we plant seeds in a garden we may never get to see.
And when my time is up
Have I done enough?
Will they tell my story?*
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live. (Ecc. 3:9-12 ESV)
*All quotes taken from Hamilton: An American Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
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