At three thirty in the afternoon a couple of days ago, this conversation happened in my house:
The Babes: Mom, can I have some cereal with milk?
Little Guy: Me too? plain Cheerios with sugar and milk?
Me: Ok. Middle Guy, do you want some too?
Middle Guy: Yes please, but can I have Reeses Puffs with milk instead?
Me: Ummmmm. Yeah. I guess so.
Middle Guy: Thank you Mom!! You’re the best!
Little Guy: Yeah, she is! She’s the best mom we could ever have!
Middle Guy: Yeah, she’s super-floppin’-awesome!!
Little Guy: Right??!!
These are the days, folks. This is it.
If you have kids, you know.
If you don’t have kids yet, you will.
If you never have kids, you’ll feel it from someone little and precious that might not be your own, but who will steal your heart and run with it.
This innocent little exchange between my kids stretched it’s warm tingly hands out and wrapped around my heart and proceeded to melt it to a warm, sloppy puddle of pure un-adulturated happy.
These are the moments that make Mom-ing fun and gratifying in the short-term.
Yes, they love me.
Thank you, Lord.
I chuckled at the irony though.
Did you catch it?
I am the most floppin’-awesomest mom because I’m letting them have sugary cereal for a snack.
The simple pleasures of human indulgence and immediate gratification.
Yes, they enjoy it, and in that moment they equated the pleasure of their good luck with loving me.
But handing them highly processed sugary snacks does not an awesome mother make me.
I will say, firmly, that I don’t believe this makes me a bad mom either. I have my rules about sweets and snacks and I’m very comfortable with them.
I am observing though, this age-old paradigm of parenting.
Kids want what they like.
They want what’s fun, or easy, or both.
They want immediate gratification.
And sometimes they can have this, because life deserves to be fun.
But sometimes, too much is too much.
And as parents, we have to step in and say no, or set limits, or provide healthy structure even though it may not be what they want in this instant.
That’s our job, isn’t it?
To use our decades-more of wisdom to provide the best possible life we can for our kids – whether they can see it in that moment or not, and whether they like it in that moment or not?
It’s not our job to be their best friend.
That’s the job of their friends.
We don’t get the pleasure of being buddies with them all the time.
We get all of it – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
That’s our job, even when it’s really, really,
It’s our job to guide them to becoming emotionally and physically strong, healthy, adults and citizens.
To encourage and teach them how to make healthy choices.
To teach them honesty, respect, honor, loyalty, conviction, strength, generosity, service to others, appreciation, moderation, consideration. . . and all the other values you hold important in your family.
To teach them make healthy food choices, and exercise choices, and sleep choices, and friend choices, and drug and sex choices, and time-spending choices, and activity choices and on and on and on .
To teach them that sometimes the “funnest” or easiest way is not necessarily the best way.
To try to provide them with the faculties to bring these values to fruition on their own.
To give them the tools they need to be able to build a healthy life on their own when the time comes for them to jump off the limb and fly.
And it’s hard.
Parenting is not easy work.
And a lot of the time it feels thankless.
Sometimes it hurts.
My kids have never extolled my motherly virtues when I’m reminding them to complete their chores, or do their homework, or eat their broccoli, or go to bed at a decent hour, or that no, they may not get the new slaughterhouse video game.
I’m pretty sure they don’t really like me when I’m telling them their grades need to come up, or that they are not using that ten-pound organ on their head called a “brain”, or that their attitude needs a major adjustment.
In beautiful, sparing moments though, they see and appreciate what I’m doing.
Sometimes, the little bulb above their heads sparks to illumination and they see what I was trying to do, and they *gasp*. . .
. . . appreciate it.
Those are proud, shining moments.
And they may take years to appear.
But they will.
And when they do, those same warm tingly hands that wrapped around your heart and turned it to that warm, sloppy puddle of pure un-adulturated happy back in the days of sugary afternoon snacks – that same feeling will come back and squeeze around your heart with a force so mighty you might not be able to breathe for a moment.
And you’ll know.
You’ve done it.
Your work has paid off.
So hang in there with me, friends – chin up and head held high.
And when our kids have grown up as healthy, happy, kind, and strong adults, we’ll raise a glass to one another – you and I, and smile a reminiscent smile, and maybe a little tear will fall. But we’ll know it was all worth it.