I remember the days of longing for a child. Although they are over ten years away, they are never far from my heart. Children have a way of teaching us things about ourselves we never knew. Nobody tells us that before they come. They just show us cute pictures of snuggles and giggles and beautifully decorated nurseries. I learned that I think and care about myself a lot; while that is not a bad thing, there is a balance and a sacrifice motherhood brings. And it is beautiful. And painful. And glorious. And life giving. And hard sometimes. All of which is OK. None of us look at parenthood the same, and I think it is designed that way for our children. So life isn’t boring and predictable and every family unit looks and behaves the same. I believe I was created to be my kids mom and I am honored and privileged to care for them - even when they are quoting “Dumb and Dumber” over and over and OVER again. I love their strengths and equally love their struggles. I love their HUGE over the top personalities and loud laughs.
Parenting is one of the greatest gifts Ken and I have been given and I pray we cherish every opportunity that comes our way. We were challenged in a big way when our son, Rocco, was diagnosed with cancer in July of 2014. There is nothing that rattles you like a child who is sick and helpless. It’s frightening and take-your-breath-away scary and you are at the mercy of strange doctors who talk scientific medical talk and you just shake your head and pray they know what they are doing and help save your child. Through this difficult journey we gained a lot of perspective and readjusted course on a lot of things in our hearts. I pray you never have to go through something like that to gain new insight into your children, but if you are there now, I got you. I feel you, it’s hard, and I am truly sending you big hugs.
This is the last installment of “40s Wisdom to Live By” from my very special ladies. They had a lot to say on parenting. I didn’t even include it all because it is so much. The awesome thing is - I taught every single one of their children. And they are amazing. Not perfect, nowhere close to perfect, but they are incredible humans who I was privileged to have under my wing for a brief time. Thank you ladies for your insights, I hope this little series has given you some direction for the next phase of your precious life!
- Talk less and listen more
- Cultivate shared experiences and shared interests with all of your children. Having something you all value and can do together cannot be beat!
- The children God has entrusted you with are part of your life's calling - meaning just because kids grow up and move out doesn’t mean your influence and guidance aren’t needed. Their lifelong struggles are meant to be shared - by design - by you.
- Enjoy your kids
- Read to your children until they go to college.
- You are a steward of your children, and they grow up fast. Don’t let other things keep you from being there for your kids, even if you think you’re doing them for your kids.
- Walk with your kids through hard times but allow them to fight and endure. Struggle nurtures the heart more than anything else.
- Your kids need to know that you will not judge them if they make a big mistake in life. Show them as often as you can that you love them unconditionally. Listen with a desire to gain understanding, not just to make a point or manipulate.
- Create a legacy that will live on in the hearts of your children: take pictures, bake cookies, decorate gingerbread houses, establish traditions.
- Teaching your children emotional intelligence is of utmost importance.
- You have not really parented until you have taught your children to drive! I encourage you and Ken to figure out who can be the most patient and the least reactive to situations when your children are learning to drive.
- Do not allow defense to settle in their hearts. Help them sort through disagreements peacefully.
- Don’t be afraid to be the mean parent and not let your kids do something that most everyone else seems to be doing. Your job is to slow things down as much as possible to allow them to be kids/teens and enjoy kid/teen things for as long as is appropriate.
Until next time!