Everybody comes from somewhere. From somebody.
Everybody has a history. And a foundation.
We are changed by who we were.
Sometimes for the better; sometimes not.
There’s this moment in motherhood: maybe it happened when they put that bundle into your arms, maybe it happened when your child emulated a bad behavior of yours. That moment when you realize how much you want for them. Things you want to show them and do with them. Values you want to instill in them. Knowledge you want to pass on to them. Habits you want to establish. Mistakes you want to keep them from. Just… stuff.
I think my parents “got” this. I always felt like they took their parenting gig seriously. I felt like my mom was able to balance showing me a Christ-following, servant-hearted mother with fun-loving, laughter-inducing friend. It’s a magical relationship. It starts off balanced more towards being a servant and behavior therapist when you have littles to a example-showing, wisdom-sharing friend when you find yourself an empty nester. She made it seem such a graceful, slowly fading transition. Having her as an example gives me confidence as a mother. Confidence that I at least know what I’m aiming for, what an amazing mom looks like.
My mom gave me so much. She’s the one that gave me my love of cooking, cleaning, and couponing. She showed me what motherhood was to her: fun, love, and [honestly] a lot of work. She showed me what marriage was to her: friendship, servanthood, supporter. She wasn’t fake. She didn’t put up a facade that life is easy or without challenge. Instead she met things head on. She put God first. She spent [and still spends] a lot of time praying for her family. Her priorities were in line. She just seems to get *it*. You know: what life is about, how to show others you love them, when to ask for help, and when to work it out.
My mom also made going to church as a family a priority. Three [sometimes four] times a week we were there. It wasn’t an option, but it wasn’t a chore. It was fun. When we were old enough to join the youth group, my parents served there too. My mom made thousands of batches of chocolate-chip cookies while my dad led young guys on their journey to manhood. Sometimes I thought they were more popular than we were [hehe].
My dad gave me a lot, too. It’s almost intimidating to think about how hard my dad worked to provide for our family. He graduated high school early by getting his GED. He worked different jobs and was eventually promoted to the manager of a fast food restaurant. In that role he interviewed and hired a girl because he thought she was so pretty [oh my]. They started dating, fell in love, and got married. He decided to go to school, and thankfully had the support of another family member to go. She was his rock and when the babies started coming, she made every penny stretch. Number three [hehe, that’s me] was a surprise and she wasn’t quite sure she could take on another babe when number two wasn’t sleeping through the night. Nights when she was home alone because her husband worked midnights and went to school during the day. Life is work.
I remember very distinctly being five years old and meeting my dad at the baseball field because not only was he working two jobs and going to school, he was also my coach and never missed a game. At the end of the season, he would type up individual letters to each of the players and laminate them with contact paper. He would use the letter to tell each kid what he thought was great about them and all I remember thinking every time I read that letter [it was prized] was how lucky I was that I “got to keep him.” He was my dad. And even then I knew I was lucky.
[You can’t tell but I am definitely rocking the Minnie Mouse earrings with the tee ball uni.]
When I was 13, my dad graduated with his bachelor’s degree. It took him a long time. There was some perseverance required. But then just before I graduated high school, he got his masters degree. And I’ve been able to experience first-hand what happens when someone works and works and doesn’t give up. Doesn’t look for an easier route or settle for less than awesome.
And my dad brought those traits to fatherhood. He had high standards. He appreciated work and practice. Endurance and competition. He was kind of no-nonsense, but looking back I’m thankful for it. I see myself taking the same “no blood, no foul” approach with my kids. I see how I enjoy hard work. It’s still my favorite way to connect with my dad: whether it be training for a triathlon together or helping with yard work when we visit. There is a bond strengthened through sweat lost.
He showed me a great example of a father sacrificing for his family, leading them as the head of the household, and being just strong enough that softness is surprising [and genuine].
So what values do I feel like my parents instilled in me? What values do I want to pass along to my kids? I think it’s important [like any goal] to list them out. Put them in writing and commit to them.
Love God. Make Him The Priority in your family. Enjoy going to church. Be super involved. Make going to church together and the community that comes with that a cornerstone of your family.
Serve Others. Find value and fulfillment in helping others; whether it be with your time, talents, or treasures.
Work Hard. Life won’t be without challenge. Embrace it and thrive on it. Trust in God and lean on the people he’s put in your life.
Value Family. Your family is a lot like a sports team. Everyone has a position they excel at and everyone has an integral role to play. Eat together. Play together. And when all else fails, call a family meeting.
Have Pride. Be Humble. Have pride in your work. Present your best foot. Take care of what God has blessed you with. Be humble and remember that, ultimately, it all comes from Him.
I know that a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old are too young to really grasp these values. But if there’s one thing parenting has taught me, it’s that you might as well start early because you’re definitely going to make mistakes so try to get a few out of the way before they can really remember them [hehe].