Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs, bad decisions and good, regrets and triumphs. Looking back at my own childhood, I have so much sympathy for what my parents endured. While they were on a journey that took them down a different path than my own jaunt so far, I see many parallels between our lives, our adventures and misfortunes.
I also see many areas that I want to learn from. Not necessarily mistakes that they made, but small divergences from the path I want to remain on, that I hope not to repeat. These lessons are not just from observing my own family and experiences, but from friends and even strangers I have watched along the way.
Knowing how my mind works (meaning it doesn’t) I think it prudent to write down these lessons, these little tidbits of advice for my future self. Seeing as I can barely find the sunglasses on my head…
Remember Your Younger Self
Remember how hard childhood can be, how difficult it is to try and discover yourself and be your own person. Remember that you feared becoming your mother as a teenager….
…and it’s ok if your daughter feels the same way. Remember that there were days that the world overwhelmed and terrified you to the point where all you could accomplish was curling in a chair to read a book all day, and your son may feel the same way at times and need a video game break. Age changes your memories, it makes certain pieces of your past stronger while fading others. For your own children’s sake, endeavor to remember and to find sympathy in those memories.
establish equality when they Marry/Become Parents
Remember to treat your children and their significant others equally on their big days. Whether this be with wedding planning or baby shower gifts, each day should only be marked by the specialness of the occasion not by how one child was treated differently than another. Find a set of specific gifts to bestow on each child for their first baby, set aside a certain amount of time and money for each wedding…deviating from this path can create bitterness and hurt feelings.
As your children grow older they will become enmeshed in their own lives; time will fly by and they will suddenly realize that they haven’t seen their grandparents often enough. Work, children, and LIFE simply gets in the way. However, when illness strikes, your children will come to visit, they will make the time. Do not shelter them from the facts, let them know what is going on. Tell them if grandma is having tests done or has planned a surgery, warn them of an impending biopsy or worries about grandpa’s memory…You may think you are protecting them by keeping such information private, but all you are doing is taking away valuable time that your children could be making memories, or saying goodbye. Give the information and let your children process it and take steps as they see fit. Have pride and trust in the in people you raised to be able to handle the news and act accordingly.
Love Your Son and Daughter In Laws Like Your Own
Giving your children away to the care of someone else is going to be hard. It’s going to bring tears of joy and sadness as your children create lives of their own with someone else. You may find this even harder if you aren’t a particularly big fan of the person your child chooses for a mate. However, your child loves that person, your child wants them in their lives forever, and one sure way to create a rift between yourself and the life they create is to openly dislike them. Hopefully, you will fall easily in love with the person your child has chosen, but if not, you must rise above your distaste and treat them with respect and care. Make them part of your family, as your child has. Don’t show favorites between your sons and daughters in law, even if you feel them in your heart.
A time will come when your children struggle, when they need your help to pick up the pieces of the life they fought so hard to create. Bouey them, be their rock and give them the support and tools they need to begin again. Give them time and love…but do not be a crutch forever. As much as they need you to pick them up, they also need you to let them go, to force them to live their life alone once again, to make their own decisions, mistakes and bask in their personal triumphs. Do not let them forget to live as much as you may love having them around again, you did not raise them to live in your basement…push them to find their own path once more.
Take Your Grandchildren/Visit Often
Once again, your life will be busy and crazy and it will be easy to let your grandkids grow up too fast with not enough of you in their memories. Take your grandchildren often. Set aside special backyard campouts and days at the park. Take them individually for special alone weekends and big pancake breakfasts where no one tells them they used too much syrup or butter and give them their own can of whipped cream to add as much topping as they would like. Babysit them whenever possible, even if it is inconvenient. Children grow so fast, and you are only getting older, let them help keep you young.
Hopefully you will have LOTS of grandchildren. Make sure that you treat them each equally. Spend time with them all and be sure not to show favorites. Make sure presents at Christmas and Birthdays are both different for each child yet comparable. If you have some grandchildren that live farther away, be sure that you send them small gifts of love to let them know you are thinking of them even as you spend one on one time with those that live closer to you. Call them on their Birthdays and holidays that you miss, Send silly cards for the sake of saying “hi” or “thanks” and always include a big hug or kiss. You won’t be around forever, make your love known now.
Don’t Forget, Everyone is Crazy
And so are you, in your own way. Try to be patient with your family when they drive you nuts rather than driving them away. There will be times when you drive everyone around you nuts as well. Your children will make decisions and act in ways that you cannot understand when they are older; try to remember that you raised them to live their own lives and not simply to abide by how you would live their life. Allow them to make their own mistakes and do not offer judgement, be humble and never jealous when they outshine you. Celebrate their every triumph, even if you do not consider it to be one.
My children grow older with every moment. Soon I will look around and find a quiet house; a clean house that I despise. Hopefully, remembering and abiding by these tidbits will keep my house busy with visits from my grown up babies and the children they have made.