Do you remember when a child was first placed in your arms? Your child.
Do you remember what a miracle you thought it was that you were holding another human being that you helped to create? You began to see all the good things that would occur in his or her life because you couldn’t imagine that your child would have anything but good.
And then life happened. Maybe things didn’t go as well for your child as you anticipated.
So, what did you do?
I know what I did. I drew on the memories of my own childhood. I did as my own mother did, and I’m sure I made some of the same mistakes. But always, my mother was there for me. And in the end, I believe I was there for her.
The manner of parenting in a family is almost like a carousel that continues going round and round. The passengers who ride in each generation are different, but they bring passed-down ideas with them. These can be good and positive ideas or ways of doing things, but they can also be negative and destructive. This is why the job of a parent is so crucial to our very civilization.
Recently, I’ve been going through old 8mm film taken by my grandmother. I see my mother as a beautiful, young woman, laughing and chasing after her daughters. I see myself from babyhood to teenager, with a hand in the hand of my mother, or in the middle of a hug. And always, we’re happily moving in these pictures–always we had to be moving, a requirement of my grandmother who was filming.
Of course, there were times my mother and I did not see eye to eye, but one thing I knew: whatever I did, or she did, our arms would re-open to each other in love.
Because life, and relationships, are full of surprises. Things won’t always go as we expect them to. And plans we have for our children may not materialize.
The way of a good parent is the way of forgiving–the way of love.
Being a loving parent does not mean over-indulgence, but neither does it mean selfish disregard of one’s child. A parent ought to be a shoulder to lean on, a shelter in sad, and bad, times. A parent ought to be there. My mother and father were there for me, and I pray I’ll always be there for my children as well.