“Have you got your books, lunch box and that form I signed? Don’t forget to drop the form at the office, its due today!” Every year, at about this time in the fall, similar conversations are happening in households across the country. Parents are reminding kids to get it together and prepare for a year full of growth and learning. In the meantime, kids are hoping to extend summer vacation by just a few more days, allowing them the freedom to run, play and dream without any parental distractions.
For most parents, the start of a new school year means one thing, crazy, frantic schedules! Gone are the lazy days of summer and the homework free evenings. While many parents are happy to have kids back in school, some are dreading the day-to-day chaos which accompanies our kids schedules today. Still other parents may feel sad that life is “flying by” and their kids are growing up way too fast. Whatever your feeling, I have a few helpful thoughts based on my experience as a mom of almost 23 years and as the daughter of an incredible mom – Joan Mary.
I’ve learned important things about parenting over the years thanks to a person who always put her children before herself. I have fond memories of mom making english muffin egg sandwiches every morning, ensuring that we left the house with a good hearty breakfast. After I became a mom, my mom taught me to always cherish the moments with my children – as they really do grow up way too fast. When my daughter Grace was born, everyone would advise me to enjoy the moment. I’d nod appreciatively but inside I’d be fuming – “Don’t they realize that this child does not allow me to sleep at night?” It wasn’t until my third child was born that I actually understood the phrase enjoy the moment. I thought I had understood this with my girls, but life and experience have a way of slowing us down and helping us realize that it is good just to “be” rather than to “be busy” all of the time.
When my girls were both Irish dancing at Harney Academy in Walpole, I came up with a clever way to try to remain peaceful in a parking lot with a 2-year-old. (The distance was too far to drive back home, so I waited during a 2-3 hour class.) I took out the middle seat out of our van and threw down a blanket and toys and let Andrew play. This was my idea of a portable playpen. Not perfect, but it worked and I have fond memories of sitting in that parking lot on the floor of my van with my son, while waiting for my girls.
We all have the tendency to want the very best for our children. This means we may worry from time to time. Mom taught me the many pitfalls of this fault and insisted that nothing good comes from worrying. She said that worrying is like a prank phone call and we have to hang up on it! So even thought I fail sometimes, I try hard not to worry about the future. If the kids see me worry, then they become anxious. I remember being with Emma at a World Championships in Dublin waiting for the recalls. “Are you nervous Momma?” “No, of course not…I feel great.” Of course inside I was a mess and was so nervous but I didn’t let her know! My outer confidence worked and she got the recall and danced her set beautifully.
“Why can’t I get those jeans that my friends have?” I am sure you have heard these kinds of comments from your kids. I’ve learned after many failed attempts, never to compare myself to anyone or seek to have what others have. I’ve tried to teach my kids that they are unique and unrepeatable. Because of this, they don’t need to copy what others have or do. They simply need to be the best version of who they are, created by God. For the most part, this message has been heard by the kids and I believe they know how blessed they are.
As I wrap up this blog, I can’t help but mention the 2 year anniversary of my beloved mom’s going home to God on September 9. It is hard to believe that it has been 2 full years without her physical presence on this earth. But I can happily share that her light, love and faith live on in all who knew and adored her. A day does not go by when her name is invoked for some reason. When things are tough, we find ourselves asking “What would Joanie do?” After some reflection, we always find the best solution to the problem. As evidenced above, her wise counsel continues to guide all of us as we travail life’s journey without her. But in our pain, we turn our eyes to God and place our trust in Him – the One who our mother placed her trust in. May you rest in eternal peace momma – forever. We miss you.