Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Encouraging

I don't always do the right things as a parent.

I don't always ask the kids to set the table. I don't ask them to take out the trash. I don't have a chore list that they must check off every day or week. I don't hold back from doing things for them instead of helping them become more independent.

I don't expect them to be at the top of the class. I don't demand straight As. I don't ask them to read more minutes than the school's minimum. I don't make them do their homework before having screen time.

I don't speak enough Chinese to them. I don't enter them in music competitions. I don't always put them in summer enrichment camps outside of school.

I don't always have a great selection of clean, folded clothes for them to choose from each morning. I don't always turn in permission slips and school dues on time. I have even forgotten to pick the kids up on an early release day. I don't always empty out DD's Take Home folder and check her school work.




One day in late January, after DD's accordion folder was so overfilled with take-home work that I was embarrassed to look through it, I looked through it. I came across a worksheet that seemed like a New Year Resolution question/answer sheet. But instead of "resolutions," they were more fill-in-the-blanks for what one wants to do in different areas in 2014. Examples: A new skill I'd like to learn; A place I'd like to visit; A new food I'd like to try. It looked interesting, so I read on in detail.

And then I came to one that made my heart skip a beat. I had to read it again and again to make sure I was reading it right.
A person I hope to be more like: 
And her answer:
My mom because she's encouraging.
I read it over and over to make sure that I read the prompt correctly and the answer correctly. I deciphered her irregular cursive strokes to make sure it said mom. And encouraging. And reread A person I hope to be more like.

Then this lump began to grow in my throat and my eyes started to blink faster. 


This Johnny-come-lately mom had to tell her daughter how touched she was reading this response, um, only a few weeks late. Then this skeptical mom had to ask her daughter if she wrote that answer because she couldn't think of anyone else to write about.

DD was gracious enough not to be offended by that question.


Perhaps I seem a little too surprised and overjoyed to read something like this. It seemed sort of no-big-deal to DD. But I am a sentimental schmuck. And a MOM.

The-child-came-out-of-my-uterus-HOW.CAN.I.NOT.BE?


Encouraging. You know what else is encouraging? That DD's words have turned around to encourage me, a parent who seems to actually be doing something right.


12 comments:

  1. I love this, Sandra. I don't think these kids realize the power they have over us - the power to turn us into a pile of mush with one sentence.
    Good job, Mama.

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  2. To use a DD phrase, "I know, right?" They have SO MUCH power. And I can be so mushy. I take gushing to new levels sometimes. Thank you, Shannon!

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  3. Wow, this made me cry!!! I got choked up. It's amazing all the good things our kids see in us, while we tend to focus on the negative. You *are* an encouraging person so naturally you are an encouraging mom. I love that DD articulated this so well and she wrote something so deep & substantial. I like her last answer: she wants to try brussel sprouts :). Stir fry them in bacon grease. The best :).

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. You're sweet. I try to be encouraging, and hopefully more of that gets through than the daily grind! We made brussel sprouts for Thanksgiving last year; then I made it again earlier this year, and she did finally try it. Doesn't love it, but she tried it. I didn't stir fry in bacon grease, but roasted them with bacon chunks. Close enough, right? ;)

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  4. I agree with Lisa completely! (well actually I am anti-brussel sprouts but otherwise I agree)
    This is a great reminder that you are an Awesome mom!

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    1. Awww, Rachael, you're so very kind. We all strive to be awesome moms, but it certainly feels the best when our own kids give us some validation, no? I'm a lover of brussel sprouts myself, and lots of bacon and balsamic vinegar helps! :) Thank you for reading and commenting, my friend!

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  5. I can so relate to your reaction! (And what a cool thing for your daughter to write :) )

    I found a letter in my younger son's backpack that he'd written to be carried by the Pony Express when it came through town. In it, he tells me my food is good (which is not what I hear every night at dinner) and more nice things about me... ending with "your the best." I'm far from perfect, too (haven't looked in my older son's backpack all year- it's a scary place) so it's nice to have some positive feedback from the kiddos.

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    1. I think one of our rights as moms is to gush all we can when it comes to our kids, so I don't feel *that* embarrassed. ;) LOL about the backpack. You know it's bad when the teacher sends an email saying "please don't forget to look in your child's accordion file..." It's report cards and conference time, so I gotta get on those! How sweet of your little one--I do believe that what they write is much more substantial than daily behavior. It takes much more thought to write than to just "react." You know what I mean? Thanks for sharing your son's letter, Janna!

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  6. Your the best, I know it, they know it and you deserve the recognition! xo

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    1. Awww, Hel, YOU are the best! Thank you for saying that. Hope you're doing well and getting hugs and kisses from your boys everyday! :)

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  7. As I was reading the opening paragraphs to this post, I kept asking myself whether you'd be doing everything right as a parent if you were doing all those things. Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, letting kids be kids is one of the best parenting choices out there. It gives them the freedom to discover themselves, to build confidence in themselves, to problem solve for themselves when you're not there. I most definitely agree with your last statement that you are absolutely doing right by this parenting gig!

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    1. Nilsa, I'm so glad that you share some of my parenting dos of don'ts! Of course, I use the word "right" very loosely. What's right differs from family to family, from individuals to individuals. We as parents are all trying to do what's best for our kids, based upon our own experiences. And you're right--I do focus on letting my kids be kids. It's a precious and short time in life. And, thank you--I'm doing my darnedest to do right by my kids! :)

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