In the midst of me sharing about my lessons learned from my excursion into solo parenting for a few days, I would be remiss not to mention someone who had the greatest influence on me as a parent: my mom. Today happens to be her birthday as well, so my heart is heavy with thoughts of her as it would have been her 75th birthday today.
I miss her very much, but who I am and how I relate to my children is due in large part to the influence that she had on me. My mom had incredible talents and abilities that she put aside in order that she could stay home and raise my brother and me. Fortunately, we were able to survive on that, not something that is easy to do in today’s culture. Things are so expensive and it becomes difficult for only one parent to work, even when the material expectations of the family are not as high as our culture may dictate or mandate.
I’ve heard it say that men generally marry their mothers and women generally marry their fathers. In other words, they find someone who resembles (in trait) their father or mother. My wife and I have had discussions about that and have both agreed that in many ways, I am very different from her father and she is very different from my mother. At the same time, we’ve seen some striking similarities that lie deep within, specifically when it comes to character. My wife resembles my mom in her heart and that is one of the things that attracted me to her.
My mom was always so loving and gentle with children. That’s not to say that she never got mad, but she had a way with kids that was so evident. That’s probably why she worked with children in the school system for over 25 years. She was perceptive and could always see things in children that others might bypass. My oldest son was the apple of her eye. He was her first grandchild and I think he reminded her of me, whom she loved deeply. She would get down on the floor and play with them, never one to shy away from whatever it is that children were doing. She was “hands on” in her parenting.
During my time as “Solo Dad” for the weekend, I gained an even greater understanding of the need for that kind of “hands on” parenting. It’s too easy to be “checked out” in our culture of gadgets and technology. I find myself zoning out or wanting to run to a computer, tablet, or phone in the midst of moments that will soon pass me by. When in doubt, my default position needs to orient myself towards my children, especially when it means getting down on the ground and playing whatever they are playing.
My mom always loved games. We were a board game kind of family. Scrabble. Yahtzee. Trivial Pursuit. We loved to play games. We also loved to do puzzles. Both of these things are things that I have tried to instill into my children as well. In fact, while my wife was away, we bought a new game that my boys have taken to. While I type this, there is a halfway finished game of Disney Monopoly lying on the floor of my boys’ room. These are the moments that I will cherish forever.
They are also the memories that I cherish about my mom and her mom before her. I remember my brother sharing a memory at my grandmother’s memorial service that had to do with her passion for Scrabble. That passion was passed on from her to my mom to me and now to my children. All of us spent time doing puzzles, playing games, and enjoying one another’s company. Even if we had had the internet, nothing would have compared to what we were experiencing.
I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it, the legacy that we leave will carry on if we instill it properly. Of course, that can easily be said of our faults and bad habits as well (but that’s a post for tomorrow). For now, I will remember my mom today. I will remember the way that she parented me, the way that she loved me, the way that she still lives on inside of me. I can only hope that when she sees all of her grandchildren again that she will be proud of the job that I’ve done. After all, I couldn’t have done it without her.