Recently, at the inaugural MBC Legacy Workshop with SurvivingBreastCancer.org, as we were discussing our definitions of legacy, one of the participants suggested that we could think of our influence on those around us as “imprinting.” I immediately got distracted thinking of geese and ducks, which I know aren’t the only animals who are influenced by imprinting, but then it hit me.
Imprinting is for life.
Imprinting becomes a part of who you are and how you see yourself.
As I’ve written before, when I was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) in 2017, I was legitimately worried that my children might not remember me as a whole person, that their memories would be from other people rather than their own. Those worries have somewhat dissipated over the last five (5) years; at the same time, I think about it a lot. I try to think back to their ages and what I remember from that time period.
As my dear friend, Rod Ritchie, keeps reminding me, children do remember their moms, even if they don’t have decades and decades to spend together. Rod can speak intelligently about that since he lost his mom to MBC and it’s comforting to see people like Rod and Dr. Andrew Silver, both of whom lost their moms to MBC, and perhaps envision some of what my children’s impact will be.
There’s another word that we discussed at the Legacy Workshop — impact. The context of this label was much more when talking about the wider impact on extended family and society, more than children, but the thought process is the same. As we measure our impact on those we love and the world, it is important to think about who we are impacting.
As I’ve thought about legacy and impact and now, imprinting, I find myself taking more time and focusing my intentions on this process. Sometimes, who we are and who we want to be are not aligned; and that process of improving or adjusting is a lesson I’ve tried to live out in front of my kids. I remember that saying, more is caught than taught; which can be awfully tough to live up to. Those closest to us see all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly.