On Rearing Children

Recently, a writer friend asked me to answer some questions about parenthood.  Oh, my.  My three children are adults and their children are fast approaching adulthood, which gives you an idea of how long ago it was that I was parenting.  Not that it ever stops.  No matter how old your children are, they are still your children.  You’re still concerned about them. I try not to give advice.  (If my children read this blog, they’ll be cackling over that one.)  My advice is usually, “Don’t make the same mistakes I did.” 

The one thing I did right was love each of my children no matter what.  I won’t go into the “no matter what” because I didn’t know until they grew up and felt impelled to traumatize me with what they’d done while Mommy was comatose and sawing zzzzzs.  They survived; no credit due their mother who didn’t know all the adventures they embarked upon, sometimes in the middle of the night.  (Your days will come, dear ones, when your children will have stories to tell you about what they got away with while you were snoozing.)

If I could go back in time, I’d probably tell my younger self to study my children and figure out what hidden passions they have so that I could encourage them to develop those gifts and talents.  Unlike most people, I knew from childhood what I wanted to do.  The vast majority has no clue, but if we (parents) look closely, we might spot something that ignites their imagination enabling us to better guide them toward a vocation that can be an avocation.  People who love their work are greatly blessed.

Alas, parents in every generation do the best they can.  In my opinion, each generation reacts to the way they were brought up.  My parents were from the Greatest Generation.  They worked hard all day at their jobs and came home to work on building their own house.  When they had their annual two week vacation, they took me and my brother to national parks, lots of them over the years.  I watched my mom and dad work hard all vacation, driving, setting up campsites, cooking, washing clothes.  When I grew up, the last thing I wanted to do was camp.  My parents also wanted us to have more than they did.  When I grew up, I wanted the same for my children (and grandchildren).  Times are different now, the economy less friendly.  What I love to see is how much time my children spend with their children. 

I can’t even count the number of days I loved being with my “kids”.  Rick and I were married seven years before we started our family.  We planned for their arrival and were excited to welcome them into the world.  They filled our hearts to bursting, challenged us in a hundred ways and are still a joy. 

What advice would I give young mothers?  Love your baby.  There are high-highs and crashing lows ahead.  Love every minute of the ride through the rapids.  Rearing children is terrifying and exhilarating.  There will be trying days when you’ll wish you could wring their little (or bigger) necks, but once they fly the nest, you’ll be amazed at how swiftly those precious years flew by.  Enjoy them while you can.  Lastly, strive to live wisely and well.  We never stop growing up.