I’m a tech team manager by day and a writer by night. But those are just the jobs that pay the bills, the titles I throw around when meeting people to provide some sort of explanation as to what I do with my time. My most important job, my highest and most holy calling, lies in my commission to raise the future.

How do you raise the future, you ask? Where do you even find it?

The future can be found nestled beside me on a stormy night, compelled to my bed by rolling thunder and a wild imagination. She can be found in my backyard on a sunny, clear day, meticulously drawing chalk hopscotch squares on the patio. The future can be found in my driveway, riding her tricycle and waving wildly to the man who lives across the street.

See, the future isn’t as far away as most people believe. It’s right within our grasps, within our homes. The trick is figuring out what to do with it.

Do you teach the future facts? Do you explain things like photosynthesis and long division and pray it makes the future smart enough to withstand political unrest and superviruses and global warming? It’s a noble goal, but it’s not enough.

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Do you enroll the future in advanced programs at the earliest age possible? Do you pack her schedule with music and sports lessons, tutors, and clubs? It might mold the future into a champion, the best at what she does . . . maybe. But it’s still not enough.

See, the future is best raised at eye level. She learns sincerity and warmth and connection when you crouch down to explain the world in her terms. She witnesses humility and growth first-hand when you step down from your pedestal to share your experiences without sugar-coating your failures.

The future requires patience. No . . . she demands it.

She will fall off her bicycle 100 times, cutting her palms, tearing her leggings, crushing her hopes of ever succeeding. So raising the future requires helping her to her feet 101 times, from bicycle and treehouse falls and playground chases gone awry. It calls for empathy, direction, and encouragement, all while maintaining your composure because you know the future feeds off your reactions. They never said raising the future was easy.

The future will fail. Oh, will she fail.

She’ll lose games, fall short of goals, and allow comparison to steal her joy. She’ll lose friendships to no fault of her own, then struggle to make sense of it. The future will learn that sometimes the only answer is that life is hard. And what an unsatisfying answer to her most piercing questions.

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Raising the future requires navigating sticky, heart-wrenching emotions even when you’re not certain of the path yourself. The future can only learn resilience, strength, and courage if you’re willing to crawl through the trenches with her, to embrace her even when you’re tired, even when you’re not sure you have the strength to carry her.

Raising the future demands that you constantly push yourself beyond your own limits because you know the price of not doing so is far too much to pay.

The future is best raised independently. She’ll request your help in her sticky sweet voice, to do the thing you know she must learn for herself. But she can only learn self-sufficiency, independence, and a fierce inner strength when you challenge her to rise to the occasion and stick with your challenge.

Yes, I will be present, God willing, for a large portion of the near future. But I won’t be here for all of it; none of us can be.

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That’s why I’m giving my everything to raising the future. It’s why I wake up with her each morning, push myself to lead with intention each day, and work the night shift while she sleeps each night.

Because if we want the future to intimately know and embody resilience, strength, courage, vision, authenticity, patience, and sincere empathy for and connection with others, we have to plant the seeds today. Our future depends on it.

Deb Preston

Deb Preston lives just outside of San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and 5-year-old daughter. She launched her blog, DebTakesHerLifeBack.com, to document her journey from surviving life as a new mom battling depression and identity loss, to truly living it again. Her goal is to provide honest, practical guidance to help encourage and make the journey easier for others. You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.