My dad visited in July. He has lived in Las Vegas since 1997, so we don't get to see him very much. My dad and I have always been really close. Something that has happened lately with both of my parents is that I now view them as more than my parents. Gosh, it only took 34 years for me to see that they are more than mom and dad. They are a lot more than mom and dad, actually. Something else that I'm noticing or sensing is close is the time when I'm more the adult, and our roles begin to switch. That is bittersweet for me. Although there are definite things that separate me from both my dad and my mom, I love them dearly. One thing that I have always felt is that they love me so, so much. It's hard when decisions are made and consequences are lived out sometimes. But now that I see them as more than immortal mom and dad, and now that I see that life isn't so easy sometimes as an adult, I realize that they are truly just people. Great, flawed, loving, nutty, interesting, confused, intellegent people - just like we all are. More than anything lately, I've just needed them to know that I love them - despite all their screw ups and absolutely because of all of their screw ups!!! They are so much more than that. Thank our God that we are all so much more than our worse days, huh? I love who they are, and I'm sorry for them for things that were hard on them. I love them and appreciate who each of them is!! Thanks for always loving me and all of my screw ups, you guys!!! And you most definitely have (and there have been a lot of screw ups, believe me!)
You should see my dad with the kids. He only sees them about 2 times per year, but you wouldn't know that to see them together. I love that. I want them to know him like I knew him as a kid. And he really wasn't the perfect dad, but he is close in my eyes simply because I felt so loved - even through the bad times. He made me feel special. See, people, we don't have to be perfect parents. We just have to make sure that our kids FEEL loved! My friend, Jonna, (who has PhD in Psychology, btw) just wrote an interesting article about this very thing. She wrote about moms feeling like we have to be perfect in every area and how absolutley impossible that is!! Yet we continue to compare ourselves and believe Satan's lies because we aren't as good as our friends in other areas of parenting, etc. As long as our kids FEEL loved, everything else is so small. But they have to FEEL love. I know people who have loved me before, and I'm 99% sure that they did/ do. But I don't FEEL that love. There's some disconnect.
First of all, know your kids. Know what makes them feel loved. Moms know what makes their kids tick. Don't get so busy that you don't do the little things that mean a lot to them. Again, that doesn't mean that you have to do everything, or even anything extra. Just use your time and other precious mommy resources wisely. For example, I can tell that Camryn really feels loved when I'm loving on her and tickling her. That doesn't take any more time when I'm reading them a book at night; I just make sure to make physical contact with her as I tell her goodnight. I think Bryson is more of an 'acts of service' kind of guy. When he's really worn out, he really appreciates me helping him with simple things like getting ready for bed or making his bed extra cozy.
Secondly, know yourself. Know what you're really good at and pick a few ways to capitalize on that. For example, I'm not so much of an organized mom as I am a fun mom. I'll sleep out on the trampoline with the kids. I'll run around looking like a fool at Jump n' Jive. It's harder for me to make sure that the laundry is clean and put away for them or that their backpacks and papers are all ready to go in the morning. It doesn't mean that I can just let all of that stuff slide (Iwish!!) It just means that I have to find ways that work for my family, but that I remind myself that it's okay that I'm not Mrs. Cleaver on most days (or...well...ever!)
Now, disclaimer: I know that I'm not mother of the year. And I know that there are plenty of times I have/will make the absolute wrong decisions regarding parenting, etc. But I think my biggest hope is that when my kids look back on their childhood, they'll remember a mother who kept her eyes focused above often enough to show it through her priorities, her time, her patience, her laughter.