Greetings to the moms…from the other side of 50. My name is Darlene. I have been married for 33 years (yes, to the same man!), and am proud mom of a daughter and a son, aged 30 and 28 respectively. Both children are married to wonderful partners, and I have a granddaughter and another grandchild on the way. You know that as soon as you tell people the age of your oldest child they start doing math, so I’ll save you the trouble…I’m 52. I still think I’m 30.
Juanita asked if I would share my parenting “style”, but mine is a never-ending work in progress. I am a much different grandmother than I was a mom, just ask my children! As I go through life, I’ve picked up tidbits from friends, from books, from experience and even from just people-watching. Those things get filtered through my internal compass before I add what I believe in to my actions as a mom. For the most part, my parenting mentors are my mom and dad – strong, hardworking, determined people who raised 3 boys and 2 girls while simultaneously running their own business, fighting off cancer and other assorted illnesses, and being relentlessly involved in church activities and boards.
My parents were proponents of all those pithy little sayings that make you crazy. “You’d better be nice to her; someday your sister will be your best friend.” (That one is true!) “Pull up your socks….” or its companion statement, “Well I guess you’re just going to have to try harder.” (Universal statements used when failing math, spelling, life, whatever…). Depending on the situation, there was another one, “It doesn’t matter how terrible you feel today, the sun always comes up tomorrow”. The most frightening one: “Do you want something to cry about?” (Seriously? Isn’t that a threat?) The good advice ones: “Be respectful, show up on time.” and “Be kind, you never know what someone else is going through.” And another somewhat frightening one but one that made me think twice a lot of times, “Remember whose family you belong to” (a biggie for us, my dad was a well-known and respected businessman, and a lot of people knew him…and us kids!).
But as children, we always knew who loved us. We always knew who our cheerleaders were. We went on family camping vacations, worked together at the family cabin, and planned amazing mega-events like anniversaries and special birthdays. My family knew, and still does, how to work, and how to have fun. We learned that from our parents.
So I guess I just want to encourage moms of little ones – what kind of family do you admire, what do you want to build into your children that is important to you? You’re not alone in this, it’s OK if you pattern after someone else – remembering that there is no family quite uniquely like yours.
Make your family yours. Make the memories you want your children to have – those memories cement you together as a family, and believe me, your children will be talking about them for a long, long time. Be present in their lives, tell them stories at bedtime, let them know you can always put down your iPhone, your dish towel, your book, your remote, and listen. And I know you’ll hear this over and over again….but no one cares if your floor is sticky and you have wet towels in the bathroom. You love those babies with all your heart, keep them safe, pray and play every day, and say “I love you” over and over and over again.
Last favourite parental saying? “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Really. My parents truly said that even before Kelly Clarkson sang the song!