Why Bother Being Grateful for Children?

Why Bother Being Grateful for Children?

I was not one hundred percent sure I wanted to become a mother. While some of my friends talked of their biological clocks ticking, I was just adjusting to being a wife. The thought of motherhood made me second guess myself. Would I be a good mom? Did I have the patience, skill and where-with-all to care for a completely dependent human being? Though I could not imagine myself as a mother, my husband could. He convinced me that motherhood would come naturally, and shortly thereafter, I became a mom, a role which significantly enriched my heart.

            Motherhood

With the birth of each of my three sons came a new and yet similar bonding experience. Holding them, I wanted to cry and smile at the same time. Each of my newborns had the power to hold my gaze with their beautiful eyes for long periods of time. They were the ones who molded me into their mother. They were curious learners with gentle and trusting hearts and their lives not only grabbed my full attention, but they also knit my heart to theirs.  

I did not know everything about parenting, but instead, learned along the way— setting boundaries, disciplining with love, teaching table manners and how to complete their chores cheerfully were as important as the academic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Then, when they turned older and tested our love and the boundaries we’d set, I tied aprons around their waists and showed them how to cook. I introduced them to planning meals and following recipes and once a week, put them in charge of cooking supper.  Now all three are comfortable in their own kitchens. 

I am proud of my sons— of their independence, their work ethic, and the lives they have established with their own families. And I am especially proud of their talents in the kitchen. 

Consequently, when I broached the topic of Thanksgiving dinner this year, my oldest son took the lead. First, he planned the menu— prime rib, sweet potato soup, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, scalloped potatoes, cranberry relish, rolls and an assortment of pies. Then he assigned each of us which foods we were responsible to bring. 

On Thanksgiving afternoon, I opened my door to welcome sons, their families and a delicious dinner planned and prepared by someone other than me. Blessings abound when my children come around. And though at first I could not imagine myself becoming  a mother, it would be impossible to think of myself as anything other.  

Why bother being grateful for children? Raising sons and daughters is an honorable job, one which enriches the heart from the very start. I’m glad I didn’t miss my  opportunity to be blessed.

Why Bother Honoring Our Parents?

Why Bother Honoring Our Parents?

We do not choose our parents, nor do parents get to select their children. Instead, parents and offspring start off their relationship with each other as strangers, eventually growing and forming into a family unit. Over the course of time, and rather quickly, parents discover their child’s particular bents, personalities and idiosyncrasies. Even before a baby can speak any words, they can communicate to their parents what they are afraid of, what calms and soothes them as well as their preferences for food. Stubborn, or carefree personalities are easy for parents to detect in their offspring as well as any lackadaisical or lazy tendencies.  Parents also understand that among their offspring, no two are the same, rather, each one is a unique and separate individual. In other words, children are an open book. Parents, on the other hand, are a different story.  

The Life of a Parent

I became cognizant of my siblings and their individual personalities and quirks long before I became aware of my mother’s or my father’s. I needed to know my siblings well in order to survive. My oldest brother, I quickly surmised, was the one to avoid. His anger was dangerous. I steered clear of my youngest brother as well. He wore diapers and required someone else to feed him, something I was unwilling to do. My three older sisters were a world unto their own, playing records on the record player and wearing rollers in their hair. My safest sibling was my brother, who was just slightly older than me, never minded me tagging along with him when he rode his bike or played kickball in a neighbor’s backyard. 

In birth order, I am the sixth of seven and I am not sure how my mother felt about having yet another child. I know my oldest sister grew tired of all the babies which arrived on a fairly regular basis and at one point threatened to run away if Mom brought another one home. 

I could access my dad easier than my mom. He sat down more often. I would find him sitting on the front porch swing smoking an after dinner cigarette and he never hindered me from snuggling next to him or crawling onto his lap. 

As for my mom, she ran the house so she was mostly on the run. She was not the snuggling type. Though she had a few close friends, her personality lent itself to privacy. And though small in stature, she knew how to put her offspring in their place with “the look” and few words. 

I knew about the lives my parents lived when they were young. I knew my dad was a veteran from WWII, but I did not know how much of a toll the war took on him. I knew he loved to listen to music as well as watch a good rain storm, but I did not know how he battled with depression. I knew Mom loved to dance, laugh, and drink scotch and soda in the evenings.  

I knew these things about my parents, but my parents knew me better. They knew my stubbornness, vulnerabilities, fears and idiosyncrasies. They knew I was unique and never compared me to any of my other siblings. They saw my life unfold and watched me move forward, and grow up.  As parents, they gave me the best of themselves. 

So why bother honoring our parents? Whether dead or alive, our parents are worth respecting. They gave us life and showed us how to live, to the best of their knowledge.

Why Bother Not Taking Things Too Personally?

 

Why Bother Not Taking Things Too Personally?

I am not a school counselor, but sometimes I have to counsel my students. Not everyone comes into my classroom with the same code of conduct or emotionally equipped to handle the everyday jabs that occur everyday. Before kids reach the fourth grade, some of them have mastered the ability to push someone else’s buttons to get what they want; a reaction. The boys as well as the girls produce tears when someone says something nasty, mean or untrue about them. And it is up to me, the adult, to calm the storm when it erupts

Tearful Children

It is not easy for me to converse with a tearful child. Weeping children make me feel inept. They remind me of how often I didn’t cry as a kid. Somewhere along the timeline of growing up, I’d concluded that crying was only a sign of weakness and something to avoid at all costs. But, I’m no longer that kid with the tough veneer, I’ve learned how vital it is to be tender toward weeping children as well as toward the children who make them weep. 

Just recently, one of my students began saying things about one of their classmates, “Miss Luikens, I heard David cussing on the playground,” she told me as she came in from recess. I tucked the information away making a mental note of her statement and then got on with the writing lesson. 

But at the end of the day, as they lined up for dismissal, the accusation of the cussing incident had already traveled along the line of students. I dismissed all but the one who’d been accused holding him back for a conversation. I looked into his brown eyes already pooling with tears. 

“I didn’t cuss, I swear,” he said looking down at the floor. 

I leaned against the door jam of my classroom and took a deep breath stalling for a moment. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve been wrongly accused too. It hurts, but I know that taking a defensive stance against my accuser was never productive. 

If it is not true, then the best thing to do is to ignore what is being said about you.” His eyes met mine and the tears slid down his face. “If it’s not true then your actions will prove your accuser is wrong.” He nodded his head, wiped his nose on his sleeve and walked out the door. 

Rumors, nasty comments, and harsh criticisms have their beginnings, but I don’t think they ever end. It is tricky to know how to handle them as an adult, let alone as a kid.  Pretending they don’t hurt is unrealistic, but we can’t let them sink us into a hole either. Somewhere there is a balancing point between being hypersensitive and disengaging ourselves entirely from the human race. Finding that balancing point takes practice and time. I know that from my trove of experiences, David will have many more opportunities to learn how to not take things quite so personally.  

Why bother not taking things too personally? It is worth it to not believe all the criticisms and accusations are thrown our way. If they are right, they can change us for the better, but if they are not, then we can leave them with our accuser.