Parenting lessons from two distinctly different sources

Sometimes I’m surprised by the sources from whom I learn parenting lessons.  I learn from my daughter a lot about what kind of mom she needs.  But, I also learn from other sources.  Last week, I learned lessons from two different places.  One I would have expected.  The other completely caught me off guard.  I’ve continued thinking about both lessons ever since.

The first, which is what caught me off guard, came from an episode of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” I’ll pause a moment so you have time to close your mouth or stop laughing.  I know.  It surprised me, too.  In the episode I watched last week, one family was having dinner with its matriarch.  She shared a touching story how her mother had left her with her aunt when she was 5 and she never forgot that, but she also never held a grudge.  Tough stuff, for sure.  Her adult daughters told her they were thankful for her putting up with them even with they were difficult.  The mother’s response was (and I’m paraphrasing here), “It’s OK.  You being difficult has made you all that much more precious.”

Basically, what I took from that, is the mom meant because she had fought so hard to raise her kids and get them through the hard times of life then she appreciated them all the more.  When something is easy, then you can be more likely to take it for granted.  When you’ve really worked at something, you appreciate the goodness that comes from it all the more.  Every parent would agree that parenting requires a lot of work.  When you see the fruits of those labors even in small bits and pieces here and there, it is precious.  I was encouraged to know a couple of things.  One, I was reminded that my child eventually will grow up and not be quite as challenging.  We won’t be engaged in toddler battles off and on forever.  Two, I was reminded that it is totally worth it.  This mom had no regrets for having her five children and raising them.  I know the challenges I face sometimes in raising one and in this day and age, not in days gone by.  Children are a precious gift.  I remember that every time I snuggle with my child.  I want to also remember it every time I work through a difficult time with her.

The second parenting lesson I learned last week came from my dad.  That wasn’t surprising to me — after all, I know what I know about parenting because of the example he and my mom have given me my entire life.  Thanks to air conditioning issues (which are, thankfully, now resolved), we ended up staying with my parents most of last week.  Staying overnight at their house was out of the ordinary for us since we only live about 10 minutes away.  My parents were very welcoming and have told me they now miss the extra energy and chatter we brought to the house.

My lesson came near the end of the week when my dad was making eggs for the kiddo and me.  My dad is really good at breakfast food.  His eggs and omlettes are my favorite hands down.  I make them the same way, but they always taste better when he makes them for me.  It’s been a long time since he’s made eggs for me.  Usually if we have a holiday breakfast together, we enjoy his equally as good pancakes or waffles.  I told him as he was cooking how much I appreciated him making eggs for us.  He replied, “It’s just nice to have someone to make eggs for.”

My kiddo having a pretend picnic at my parents' house. Sometimes our pretend play can get a bit distracting when I'm trying to get things done, but I know one day, I will miss it.

My mom isn’t a big egg fan, so I don’t think he makes them for her all that often, but I think his deeper meaning was that he misses having us kids around to cook for.  Does he miss us all the time?  Probably not.  I’m sure there are times when it’s nice to have your children raised and be free to do different things that you actually want to do.  But, based on what I hear and can imagine, there are also times you miss having them around and taking care of them.  It reminded me to try and really appreciate what I have right now.  Sometimes I’m just plain tired and don’t feel like making lunch or dinner for the kiddo.  I’m trying to remind myself that one day, I really will miss these days, just like the Trace Adkins song says.  One day, I’ll look back and think how much I’d like to be making a grilled cheese sandwich for her.  It’s the cycle of life.  I don’t want to skim over this part.  I want to make sure I appreciate and enjoy it while it’s here.

Though they came from different sources, I think both my parenting lessons I learned last week reminded me to appreciate what I have and encourage me to keep pressing on.  It’s a journey that I’m on as a mom.  I don’t have long to stay on this journey where I’m involved daily in raising a child.  In just 16 short years, my daughter will be ready to head off to college.  That’s not long.  I don’t want to miss a moment!  Remind of that the next time I’m in the middle of navigating a tantrum, please.  For now, I’m off to go give my daughter an extra kiss and cuddle while she still likes getting such things from her mama.

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