Monday, April 15, 2013

Sharing a Memory -- Parenting

I was singing with the Sterling Singers at Libby Gardner Hall.   I had been assigned to sit in the center section, and I was seated by some young (20-something) ladies.  One of them was pregnant and had to leave for the bathroom twice before the show started.  She apologized, and I made some sarcastic remark about rude PREGNANT women who just can't be in control.  Luckily she responded laughingly to my joke, and we talked about how this was her first baby and she was terrified.  I said, "Look, I'm not going to lie to you.  There are things about parenting that are hard.  But oh my goodness, you are going to LOVE it."  She got a look of near-panic on her face and said, "Do you think so?"  I told her that there would be days that she would wait with bated breath for the clock to chime 8:00 (bedtime), and that there would be days that she wished she could make last forever.  I told her that her children would occasionally make her cry, but that she should laugh at every opportunity.  I told her that she was about to get to know someone really terrific.  I told her that I was blessed to be the mom, but I was also blessed to know four marvelous people!  She actually got tears in her eyes, and she said, "Can I hug you?  Everyone keeps telling me these horrible stories.  No one has told me that I was going to be doing something I would love."  I hugged her and said, "You are going to LOVE it!"

Inspired by This blog, I want to share a couple of things about parenting that I love and that I've learned.

First of all, Spencer and I made the decision before our first child was born that we would not waste a single minute waiting for that elusive moment that is usually prefaced by, "I can't wait until...", as in "I can't wait until she can dress herself" or "I can't wait until he can play with friends" or whatever.  I can honestly say that, while I sometimes ACHED to sleep through the night, I did not ever wish for something to come.  Both Spencer and I were COMMITTED to enjoying every moment we possibly could with our children.  Now that they are big and mostly grown and nearly gone, I am grateful every day that I made the commitment NOT to wish their lives away.  I am not foolish or forgetful enough that I don't remember that some days were hard.  But I'm so glad that I embraced those days, because they won't be back for me.  That thought makes me a little melancholy.

But not for long, because I'm STILL enjoying every day.  Having big, grown-up children is so much fun!  Their talents, their words, their goodness--it is reason for celebration.

And that goes for teenagers.  Seriously, if you aren't enjoying your teens, you are missing out on one of life's most enjoyable things.  OK, so sometimes they do or say things that make you roll your eyes and think, "Really?"  (I'll have to tell you about Landon's business venture in middle school sometime.)  But they're still teachable.  They are funny.  They are talented.  They are learning things so quickly (watch out for flying light bulbs above their heads)!  Love it.  Love it all.

Yesterday the granddaughter of some ward members bore her testimony in our sacrament meeting.  I would guess she is around 14 or 15 years old.  She was articulate.  She had learned some VALUABLE lessons.  She taught me truth.  That is impressive.  If you're not learning good things from your teens, you need to get to know them better. 

Also, are they learning good things from you?

Lastly, you don't get to take credit for your children's choices.  This includes the good and the bad.  You can and should teach them.  You can and should correct them.  You can and should help them.  You can and should pray for them.  You can and should love and love and love them.  But in the end, they get to choose.  Therefore, if your child does something really terrible, you cannot take credit for it.  You are not allowed to feel guilty for someone else's decisions.  I won't let you.  It's wrong. 

On the other hand, you also cannot feel personal victory or claim credit for someone else's decisions, even your child's.  When your child is terrific, SHE is terrific, not you.  It's not about you.  It is your child's victory, your child's good consequence.  Let her have it.  Let her practice small failures and small successes while she is small, and larger ones when she is larger.  Before you know it, she will be the one making grown-up decisions every day.

You're going to love it.


Jess said...

It has been FOREVER since I have read blogs, but yours is one I realize I have really missed! You are such an amazing lady. That pregnant lady was so lucky to have had the chance to talk with you, especially about parenting. I have talked with a few "thinking about becoming a mom" women who have also heard nothing but negatives about being a mom and it makes me sad. Motherhood rocks! I am certain I am making so many mistakes but thank goodness for your insight and great advice, and mostly for your "glass is beyond half full, its overflowing!" attitude about parenting!