Sunday, January 12, 2014
Parenting isn't easy. I don't know anyone that has ever said it is and I doubt in our current world anyone ever will. There are many days where everyone is tucked in and you stop and think to yourself, 'I did a great job parenting today.' Then there are those days where you're still pulling your hair out or crying your eyes because you feel like a failure. It's easy to forget that those days your child is still unconditionally in love with you and knows that you love them, too. Once you're a parent, it's also easy to forget that there are other people in your life that love you just as much as your children; your own parents, siblings, relatives, and even friends can love you enough. It's easy to forget that as you are trying to be proud parents of your child's first steps, laughs, words that other people in your life are proud of you for the little things you do every day. My baby sister helped me remember this during her visit this past holiday season.
She's 17. She's hip. She's cool. She's a brat. It's all part of the teenage years and I can say I was the same way. I thought I could do it all, be it all, know it all. Sometimes, it's easy for us "adults" to compartmentalize teenagers into the box of "they think they do but they haven't experienced it all to really know". When in reality; they are still young and still see the world with rose colored glasses to some extent- to the extent that they still voice their opinions and have strong beliefs in the positives of the world. As adults, we spend a lot of time trying to keep our opinions to ourselves to not cause trouble, offend others, etc yet at the same time we are raising our children and we want them to make a better world. Sometimes this line gets blurred. We push our beliefs, thoughts, and even opinions onto our children. We expect them to behave a certain way in public, to dress a certain way for dinner and to follow in our footsteps in our religious, political and personal beliefs. Some parents do this without even realizing it; especially if you strongly believe something should be a specific way. As teenagers, we tend to "rebel" against everything we've been taught. To find our own person and to be what we want to be instead of younger versions of our parents. Most of the time, we still hold on to the deep rooted issues such as faith, love, work ethic. I'm grateful that my mother raised both of her daughters to hold strong values in many things but there's one key thing she has taught us both that I'm happy to pass down to my boys.
Some may read this and think, 'Well, her faith in Jesus.' Others may say, 'Her amazing ability to sew.' But I'm hear to tell you that she has taught both of us to love. My mother has never said anything ill about anyone for believing, behaving, or being different from her. I never grew up seeing the racial, gender, political or religious lines that are so deep for so many. She has passed down her love for all to us and for that I will be forever grateful.
It's so easy to be put in a box for things you believe in. Every Muslim is a bad person, every Jew is greedy, etc... and with those labels come additional mini boxes to fill your big box; your views on abortion, homosexuality, racial integration, etc are all supposed to match in the view of so many. My mother never told me this. She never said someone was right or wrong for their choices in life. She just said hello, or gave them a hug or were their friend. It's easy to forget that your parents were your influence in how you treat others until you do something for your own child and your 17 year old sister says she's proud of you!
So back to the story! One night after Christmas we were up watching Cutthroat Kitchen; a reality cooking show. At the beginning they have introductions about each chief that is competing on that episode. They usually talk about their home life, restaurant and reason they're on the show. Yuri Jr was up watching with Gloria and I while we were watching this particular episode. One of the contestants mentioned that she works in the restaurant owned by her two dads and she wanted to prove how good she is for them to be proud of her. Yuri says, "Mom, she has 2 dads?!"
Honestly, without a pause or hesitation this is what I told him. "Every family is different, Some families have a mom and a dad like you. Some have 2 moms or 1 dad and no mom. Some only have grandma and grandpa or aunt and uncle. Every family looks different and that's ok." He sat for a moment as if he was processing it all. You could see the wheels turning and then he said, "ok momma." and returned his focus on the show. I didn't think anything of the moment as it happened. Life is full of teachable moments and I always try to grab them when I can; perhaps that's the educator in me. It wasn't until Gloria said, "You're going to make me cry. I'm so proud of you right now. You explained it to him perfectly." that I realized I was doing it right. I was following in my mother's footsteps. I was raising him to love, to set aside differences and just love. Some may disagree with me. While that may sadden me, it will not stop me to raise my boys to love everyone no matter how they look, act or be. When they ask my opinion as older children, teenagers or even as young adults I will happily tell them but I will be sure to always include the love. That's what our world is missing today. Love.