It should come as no surprise to you that raising children is one of the most wonderful, frustrating, uplifting, and humbling experiences that I have ever had. There are a few quotes that have bolstered me when I feel that I have given every bit of myself that I have to give, and it still feels like I’m falling short.
1> This, too, shall pass. ~ Some poetic genius said that long enough ago for us to forget who it was (according to Wikipedia, anyway), and it has resonated with so many throughout the centuries that here I am, up to my eyeballs in dirty laundry from my beautiful mess (also known as Afton)…repeating the mantra…This, too, shall pass…this, too shall pass…
2> You’re gonna miss it when it’s gone. ~ My mother said that, with tears in her eyes, sitting in my back yard while we pushed the little people in swings. I had been wondering out loud (aka complaining) about how I was going to survive one more adventure of busy and creative preschoolers.
I hear plenty of people complain about how frustrating it can be to have veteran parents bestow those words of wisdom on them. It feels like judgement, most of the time…you know, “it goes by SO fast! Enjoy EVERY MOMENT.” They usually say that in line at the grocery store, when your children are dangling upside down off of the side of the cart and begging incessantly for a treat on the way out. You feel like horrible parent of the year, for not soaking up EVERY. JOYOUS. MOMENT. of your children’s days and nights.
Every once in a while, you realize that nothing particularly memorable has happened lately…have you just missed an opportunity to be a great parent because your children watched DisneyJR for an hour while you folded laundry? Or have you missed your opportunity to provide a clean and mess free environment for your children because you painted, and cut, and pasted all afternoon with them, and now the house looks like it imploded?
It is hard to balance those two worlds – survival and embracing the moment. Being sick a lot gets wrapped up into all of that, too (more on that later), and I am left with my life “note cards” laid out. I have a blank book before me. Note cards strewn around, waiting to be put into an order that makes sense. That’s where I am now. I am trying to collect my life time of dreams and goals, and put them in order. What do I want my life to be? What are the most important things that I want to accomplish?
The most heavy on my mind right now is what I want my children to gain from having been mine. There are no guarantees that I will be around their entire life – a reality that I came to grips with last year with the whole meningitis/encephalitis hoorah. I have been pondering that thought ever since…and now, within the past week, I have heard the exact same phrase again “Well, you might die, but you’ll probably be alright.” Awesome.
I probably will be alright. I’m not really anxious about it this time around. It is actually nice to be connecting the dots of all of my bizarre ailments, and yet again, it is most likely just another “itis” to add to my list of things that won’t actually kill me…just make me feel horrible until I’m 94. 😉 It does, however, lead me back to contemplating what I want my kids to learn from me...just in case…
The most interesting lesson that my children have taught ME is that once I get them to internalize a life lesson, they actually expect ME to follow my own words of wisdom. This has proven to be the greatest challenge in healthy eating. I told them that bubbly drinks are some times drinks, and that they are not good for you. Water and fresh juices are the best choices, in general. It worked. They don’t like soft drinks, at least for now, and they drink water because it helps them grow. They also eat tons of fresh fruits and veggies. This did eventually get complicated, however, when Hadley asked me why I still drink soft drinks, if they are bad for me.
I told him that sometimes Mommy makes bad decisions.
He didn’t buy it. I asked him if he would like it if I didn’t drink them any more, and he said yes…so we pinky promised each other that we wouldn’t drink soft drinks anymore. Thankfully, he added that we should be able to drink ginger ale when we are sick, and I am all over it. 😉 So far – over 6 months without soft drinks, other than ginger ale when I am sick. 🙂
And there it is…if I want my children to develop particular values or character traits, I can’t just TELL them how to do that.
If I want my children to be honest, I must be humble and honest with them and with others.
If I want them to be dependable and trustworthy, I must model commitment and determination.
If I want them to take advantage of their beautiful minds and abilities, I must cultivate my own love of learning.
If I want them to be kind, and gentle spirited…I can’t be argumentative and proud. That’s a tough one for me, sometimes…not gonna lie.
All of those things are goals that I have for raising my children, and as Yoda would say, “Overwhelming, it is.” So, I am narrowing down my list to my very most basic lesson that I want them to walk away with, when I am gone. I want them to know that I love them. I want them to know that, even though I make colossal mistakes and may screw them up entirely by accident…I love them just for who they are. Always. I may have other dreams and aspirations for life, but being their mommy is the best role of my life.
My final favorite thoughts about raising children (one of which my mother says I may have taken a little too much to heart… 😉 ) are these:
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~ Elizabeth Stone
and this lovely poem…
Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton (1921- )
Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby, loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.)
Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby. Babies don’t keep.
All that being said…if you were to actually ASK my children what the most important thing they have learned from me might be, I’d bet $10 they’d say that if your pee is yellow, you need to drink more water. 😉 Oh well, we can’t win ’em all. At least they’ll be well hydrated…