Summer is here, and our thoughts and expectations go to what we long for summers to be:
Sips of tea on a hot day—
Sitting by the pool—
Lingering in the evenings catching fireflies—
Listening to thunderstorms roll through—
Good books to read—
Summer concerts in the park— and
Long lazy days.
But too quickly, we’re interrupted by reality and realize that those days are now rare. And because we have kids, summer is now endless messes, requests to “do something” or “eat something,” or us wondering how we can fill the day so the kids are not “bored.” After 2 weeks, we’re wondering when school starts again!
Perhaps those unmet summer desires show us how hard it is to love our kids selflessly.
It’s hard to love and enjoy them when we have longings for life to look different. It’s hard to remember that these children are gifts and are ours to influence and to guide.
We long after quiet and calm and a neat home and forget that every mess, every tear we cry or fight we intercept, and every load of laundry we fold and meal we cook and clean up after, are investments being made into our children’s memory banks. We are the depositors in their little hearts and minds and consciences, and our response to summer interruptions and to the real life it presents have the potential to be withdraws or investments in them that can bring a great return.
When we are taxed physically and emotionally and mentally and we are weary, we see only the work our children are. It is when we are being tugged upon daily that having a vision for why we had children in the first place drives and fuels us. When we are longing for the idealistic life that is not our reality, we must remember that we had children for a reason and that fixing our eyes on the goal will help us be closer to the parent we desire to be.
The joy of summer and of our children being underfoot is that we get to be their non-stop greatest influence!
It is how we live and respond to their demands, requests, and needs that become the great influencers of their lives.
Since children are like “wet cement and whatever falls on them makes an impression (Halm Ginnot),” we must remember that our sighs and our outbursts or escapes are being watched and tucked away in the little hearts of our children. We can learn from our children, and often what they reveal in us are the cracks and insecurities and just how impatient we really are!
Parenting is the most humbling and difficult job we will ever have, but it is the most important one.
No other role we have gives us an opportunity to influence the next 250 years!
It is actually a choice to delight in our children and to remember, though it is difficult, to sustain affection when we “face the persistent crying of a newborn, the temper tantrums of a 2 y/o, the whining of a 4 y/o, the disrespect of a 10 y/o, the selfishness of a teenager…We do not always feel the same tender emotions we experience when we gave birth,” but we can persist if we have a goal!
Moms—why did you have children?
Did you ever think about it? What do you want their lives to become?
Most of us have dreams that our children will exceed us—that they will be better than us.
I know that raising 11 children made me keenly aware of how much I longed for them to be “givers” to society, not “takers.”
I longed for them to realize they are not the center of the earth and they were placed on this earth to make a difference in the lives of others.
I wanted them to know that it is better to give than to receive.
I wanted them to be generous with their time and their talents and their resources—for them to know, as Marion Wright Edelman so eloquently said, “Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.”
I wanted to them to be hospitable and to be hard working and responsible—someone others could rely on.
I wanted them to know that suffering is common to all and to not feel sorry for themselves but to know that hardships build empathy and compassion.
I wanted them to know that they were loved even in failures and that those were opportunities to be humbled and learn.
I wanted them to know that character is what you are when no one is watching—not who you are in front of others.
I wanted them to know that they are unique miracles!
I wanted them to enjoy beauty and appreciate relationships as gifts worth working on and worth forgiving or overlooking offenses.
I knew that my investment was never going to be the accumulation of wealth or degrees but the investment into their hearts and to the future 200 years or more.
I knew that security came from them knowing mom and dad were committed to each other and that marriage was worth the work. Many happy memories of childhood are associated with parents being happy, and all too often, I had to catch myself and let them see that I enjoyed my life.
I knew my words were not the most powerful thing—that my actions were—and that more is caught by what they see than taught by what I say. I knew I was being watched in how I responded to life—to job losses, to conflict, to stress, to being offended or being complimented.
I knew that what Dorothy Nolte penned was true:
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
Moms, can you embrace this summer with a new vision for what you can impart upon your children by having a vision for your job and having the awareness that how you live affects them?
Can you approach the role of motherhood with a sense of awe that the children you rock and nurse and correct and feed and clean up after have a character and a conscience and a future that you influence?
Can you remember when the days are long and you are exhausted that they will one day be people of influence as well?
There is a degree of reverence needed in parenting—the humbling reality that who we really are on the inside is seen by our children. The reality is that they have “hypocrisy radars” and know when we talk one way and live another.
This summer, let us consider that the burden we bear is a sacred one.
We should be sure our “hearts are pure and our lives sweet and clean” so that we can influence our children for good and noble purposes!
We are honored to share this guest post today.
“My name is Kerin Morgan. I absolutely love anything about water, children, and intentional conversations with people.”