A dear friend recently shared an article titled “11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew” by Dr. Stephen Cowan from the website, mindbodygreen.com. There was all kinds of wisdom on this list. One point that particularly stood out to me was about growing in cycles. The article noted that ‘each stage of a child’s life is a time of new discovery of wonder.’ I hope, personally, that this time of new discovery and wonder never ends.
I don’t think I’m alone, as a young parent, to have little moments of wonder…I can’t believe I’m the parent and not the kid. Do I really qualify to be a parent? I hear myself say things like, “if you do that one more time…” or “because I said so” or “don’t lick that airplane seat,” and I really can’t believe that I’m the parent having to say that. What our kids don’t know is that, as parents, we are figuring this gig out as we go. The article says: “some children will take a step backward before making a giant leap forward.” Good thing our kids don’t realize how many steps we, as parents, take backwards too. And good thing our kiddos are extremely resilient.
Here is the best part. The article says: “Growing in cycles means that we don’t get just one chance to learn something. The same lesson will offer itself up to us again and again as we pass through the seasons of our life. There is deep forgiveness in this way of understanding childhood, which I find takes the pressure off parents to ‘get it right’ the first time.” Amen and amen.
We have a little sign that hangs right in the middle of our bulletin board that reminds me of some great lessons that life offers up. It is titled, “in This Home,” and I truly hope this simple list defines our home. Originally, I thought it was directed towards our children. But I’ve quickly realized that the sweet reminders are also directed to us as parents and spouses too. Here are a few of my favorites and how they apply in our home.
in This Home…
We do second chances –
· for kids…Second chances to ask mom or dad for something ‘with a big girl voice and with manners’.
· as a parents…Second chances to rethink our decisions and decide if they are fair.
· as a wife…Second chances to ask my husband for something ‘with a big girl voice and with manners’!
We do grace – I best understand grace, as compared to mercy. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.
· for kids…Something as simple as getting that coveted dessert, even on a night when they didn’t finish dinner.
· as a parent…Getting that unconditional love and sweet snuggle at the end of the day from our children, even when we have not showed them our best as a parent.
· as a wife…Getting that smile that speaks so many words and a tight hug from my man, even when I have not showed him my best as a spouse.
We do real –
· for kids…What kid doesn’t do real? That’s one of their best qualities. Don’t ever ask a seven year old if they like your haircut unless you want their honest opinion.
· as a parent…Not hiding our mistakes and faults.
· as a spouse…Realizing how many more faults we have than our spouse and still humbly showing up every day and trying to love better than the day before.
We do mistakes –
· for kids… One of my favorite points of the article reminds us that the unconditional love we can show our children is the “scaffolding that encourages your child to take chances, to experiment, and to fail without judgment.” Mistakes are okay. We just have to teach our children to make the most of them.
· as parents…Where do I begin? I loose my patience way.too.often. And, we tell our kids to make smart choices, but we parents even make poor choices sometimes. Like I said, I’m thankful they are resilient and forgiving.
· as a wife.…I get tired, and when I get tired, I get snippy. I can be rude. I can momentarily forget how much I love the man in front of me. I can forget we are actually on the same team.
We do I’m sorrys –
· for kids…These happen every day in our house. For hitting. For taking. For tones of voice and words that sting. Seems that the worst offenses are the most difficult to own. We are trying to teach our kids the difference between being sorry and apologizing. Being sorry means you wish it didn’t happen. Apologizing means you own up to the offense and are truly remorseful.
· as parents…What better example can we set than to apologize to our children and take responsibility for our own offenses?
· As spouses…Again, we need to set an example by apologizing to each other in front of our children when appropriate. Especially as our kids grow older, I hope they see our many faults and our need for forgiveness. Every marriage needs mounds of forgiveness and grace, and our kids need to see that reality.
We do loud really well –
· for kids…Our children are no exception – they do loud really well. We often have to remind them that there is no need to shout. The person they are speaking to is in the same room.
· as parents…I ask my kids to not yell from a different room if they want to speak to me. They can walk to the room I’m in and and speak to me. My seven year old reminds me, often, of the same thing.
· As spouses…Okay, here’s one we’re pretty good at. We aren’t that loud. But you know all is well in our house when music is blasting over the speakers.
We do love –
· for kids…Little ones thrive on being loved. And they are darn good at dishing it out too.
· as parents…One minute I can’t wait to put them to bed. The next, I can’t get enough of them. What can I say…I never imagined I could know such love.
· as a wife…I’ve loved my husband since I was 18. But every day, child, challenge, argument, and glass of wine together on the patio builds on that love in new ways. I look forward to all the steps backwards we take together as parents…and the giant leaps forward that result.
If I made some custom additions to this list for our family, they would be as follows: In this home…We do lots of pizza. We do tears. We do snuggles. We do things that make our mothers nervous. We do things that make our mothers proud. But, really, when it comes down to it…
in This Home…as long as we do love well, we will all continue to grow in sweet wonder and discovery together.