I am a mom and I have three boys. When I wrote this my twins were almost 16 and my youngest was almost 12. I would never trade my experience as a mom for anything as it is one of the most awesome jobs one could ever have. No kids? Don’t feel left out, parenting happens with step children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, pets and anything else that needs a role model and some looking after with a little TLC.
Parenthood is like employment without a paycheck. We give and give and do and do when finally the question must be asked… what do I get in return? Many parents forget that they are actually working a job. Day in and day out with a routine that can become well…routine. We lose sight of the fact that these young people are looking up to us at all times. They look at how we live, what we say and how we react. They watch how we dress, who we hang out with and how we eat. What we do now as parents is going to play out in our kids lives later on. I recently witnessed this with my teens and saw first hand the impact I am making on them.
As babies I began telling my children that they needed to use their muscles everyday. Climbing up onto a sofa or a chair, I would say you can do it, use your muscles. Telling them the names of the muscles on their arms, biceps and triceps. The muscles on their legs, quadriceps and hamstrings. The muscle in their tummies are called abdominals. Some of the back muscles, latissimus dorsi and trapezius. This was a fun game and educational at the same time. I continued to use this reference as they got older. When they came home from school I would ask the question, what muscles did you use today? I loved the answers, pushing this and pulling that and often, they would ask me what muscle are you using momma?
Did I make an impact? Absolutely, they have all become passionate about athletics and staying physically active.
As a parent our children look to us for guidance and direction. From the time they get up until the time you close their bedroom door at night, they are checking you out. Like I mentioned above, they watch what you eat and how you eat it. My kids even know how to imitate my husband when he eats his cereal, slurp slurp! Kids see you eating chips for snacks or grabbing a carton of ice cream when depressed, they may mimic those same practices once they enter adulthood.
I made sure from the start that my kids saw colorful food on the table at every meal. Like broccoli, melon, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, corn, grapes and pineapple. Let your children see that when you are fixing your plate for dinner it has a balance of healthy colorful foods. They may not want to eat the broccoli, the sliced tomatoes or the sliced cucumbers however, they get accustomed to seeing it as part of a meal. For many years my kids never touched broccoli but I kept putting it on the table until one day they tried it. My kids now look for that healthy food and ask for it if it is not there. See why it is called a job? You can’t quit just because they said I don’t like it or I don’t want to eat that. Keep putting it out there and eventually they will try it.
Did I make an impact? Absolutely, they now make their own sautéed broccoli with garlic and freshly squeezed lemon.
The groans and moans in the back seat of the car would echo in my ears as I pulled over to the side of the road to collect pine cones while on a road trip. No! No! No! Don’t stop we want to go home. This is dumb, I don’t want to collect pine cones. For years, whenever we would travel I would find something in nature that would remind us of our outing. Pine cones have always been my favorite because they are a trees gift and it doesn’t come with a barcode. Instead of succumbing to their bellyaching I would pull over and get everyone out of the car and start collecting. “One for everyone” I would yell. Once back in the car with their pine cones thrown into the back of the car, mine perched nicely on the dash we would drive home. Usually in silence might I add. Did I make an impact? During those moments I would have never thought I did until now.
My twins went on a trip with their friends to Lake Arrowhead without me. (devastating, but dealing with it) Guess what they brought back to me?
A pine cone. How amazing! The pine cone was gorgeous, however it was the impact that had been made on all those previous road trips that really got me. They found this pine cone on their own. No prompting, no reminding or asking. I was so proud and smiling so big on the inside.
Creating lifelong habits takes work, dedication and perseverance. Don’t wait until it is too late. In a blink they are out of diapers and off to college. With all the work we do as parents do you ever sit and wonder what kind of connection do I have with your kid. Do they look at us just as a parent, ruler, dictator, end all be all or teacher, communicator or simply another human being?
What’s your story? What type of connection do you have with your parents? What type of connection do you have right now with your kids? Can you think about what kind of connection you hope to have with your own grown children? It is interesting to stop and think about it, even if you just changed a diaper.
The impact you make begins from the moment they are born.