As I made my way home this morning in the pouring rain; I came upon a site that warmed my heart. You see, a few streets over lives a mother easily twice my age. Every morning I watch her walk her special-needs (adult) son to the bus. I have always loved watching her devotion. They sweetly walk down the street, many times hand-in-hand. She is a daily inspiration to me, even though we have never met. Today, as I watched her walk beside her adult child in the pouring rain, holding an umbrella over his head, soaking wet and unprotected herself; it was a tender reminder that parenting is a life-long journey.
So many parents today have the wrong concept of what parenting is. It is not a five-year committment, nor an eighteen year committment. It is a life-long committment. From the moment that child is conceived your journey has begun. Parenting is not something you do when you are not busy with work, friends and social engagements. Parenting is your number one priority from conception to death. It saddens me to see parents who do not take their jobs seriously. They have no idea what they are missing.
I’m not sitting here claiming to be the world’s greatest parent. No sir. Far from it. I write to you as a full-time stay at home mother and homeschooler. Both things I chose willingly and with an open heart. With the knowledge that my children’s needs would always come before my own. That I would be that mother who stood outside her car in the pouring rain trying to locate a toy that had fallen under the seats. That I would carry my child when they were tired, or injured or just plain uncooperative. That their physical, mental and spiritual needs would be met before my own. That they would be served a meal first and I would happily eat mine cold or not at all if there was ever a time the supply was short. Being a parent means that you will answer your phone at 2AM in the morning and travel 50 miles to pick up your college-aged child from a party. Being a parent means jumping on a plane at a moments notice to care for your daughter after childbirth. Being a parent means sleepless nights, headaches, and stress of all kinds.
Our neighbor was a key example of this devotion. Her concern was not focused on herself, but solely her child. Her instinct to protect her child continues to this day and will continue until the day they are no longer together. This mother does not stand alone. She is one of millions around the world who, on a daily basis, serve their children with undying compassion and love. There are certainly times when these mothers are feeling drained, stressed, exhausted and perhaps a little difficult to be around. The key to truly enjoying your children is to keep your perspective. If you allow yourself to focus on the fact that you are tired, hungry, and would just, for once, like to use the bathroom by yourself….you might find yourself parenting without compassion. That can be an ugly mask to wear. If we take a moment to refocus and remind ourselves that “this too shall pass” and we have the ability to bring up our children in any circumstance, while parenting with endless love. You will succeed.
Is the reward worth the price, absolutely. There are only two things that you will ever regret about being a parent: 1) not devoting enough time to them and 2) not excepting the joy of it all, even when you are sitting in the ER for 5 hours with a screaming baby. The payout comes, and if you have done your job right, you will be rewarded with tremendous, compassionate and wise young adults and GRANDBABIES!!!
“Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” ~ John Crudele