GUEST POST – SUE WALLACE (AKA Mama Bear!)
I’m always amazed at how similar my mom and I are in so many ways. Of course, becoming a mother only highlighted these similarities and made us even closer friends. She has become someone I have grown to trust as a sounding board on my parenting journey and someone I admire for her mentorship role in many young girl’s lives.
The one thing she will always tell people is that I’m a better mom than she ever was. Of course I beg to differ because while she may not have been perfect, she was pretty close and I have amazing memories of my childhood. I also know that the values my dad and her strived to instil in us, played a major part in how my brother and I turned out and how we strive to parent our own children. I guess for her, it’s just a matter of looking back and reflecting on how she might have done things differently and how we can use these lessons to change the way we do things going forward.
There are some amazing life lessons and beautiful pearls of wisdom here that moms can take with them into the new year. It’s hard to sometimes think past the situations we find ourselves. This will hopefully encourage you to live each day more intentionally and make adjustments to your parenting approach. If anything, it will inspire you to make the most of these precious years of shaping our kids into the people we hope they will be. Over to you mom!
I was going to write a letter to Sue as a younger mom. But I know that that could be a slippery slope downhill when I reflect on what I could have, should have and would have done better. If you’re anything like me, you find it so much easier to remember where you messed up as a parent, but struggle to bring to mind the things you did well. So I thought I’d rather have a brief backward look, but appreciate the rewards of the present, and anticipate what is still to come.
I’m glad I did………
– Get married young and have my children at a fairly young age.
– Raise our children to not think they were the centre of the universe. There’s been a huge shift from the days when our grand parents raised their children to be seen and not heard, to a parenting where everything revolves around the child and everyone walks on eggshells if the little darling isn’t pleased. What you tolerate will dominate, and that’s never more true than in parenting. We’ve lost some middle ground here. Children must know that they’re loved and that their needs are important, but must certainly know that there is an order in the family, where parents make the decisions or their children.
– Always try to answer two questions our kids may ask. “ Yes we love you,” and “No you can’t have your own way.” When our teenage children pushed the boundaries and wanted to do things that were either not age appropriate, or would be a bad influence on them, my husband would ask them,”So are you asking me to be a bad parent?”
– Have the courage to help our kids choose the right friends. There’s a proverb that says “Bad company corrupts good character. I remember a couple of times when we requested that our children break off friendships that were a bad influence and many years later they saw the wisdom of that.
– Insist that we did things as a family till a certain age, even though the temptation could be to take the pressure off, and give them the liberty to choose.
– Get to take our kids with us on some of our mission trips, including India a couple of times.
– Bring our children up experiencing irrational love. Many times our kids had to tell us about something they’d done, and they would always experience immediate forgiveness. This encourages truth telling, and a no fear culture when especially teenagers get into trouble.
– Bring our children up to understand both Mercy (not getting what you do deserve i.e. discipline and consequence) and Grace (getting what you don’t deserve- gifts and spoils)
I wish I had…….
– Read some good books on parenting and been better prepared! Most of our friends were couples that were younger than us and we were the first to have kids, so we really didn’t have anyone to learn from and books were very scarce in the early eighties.
– Sought out some mature mentors that could have helped me with my insecurities and uncertainties.
– Been more patient with my children. I realize now that being patient with my children’s mistakes and bad behavior had more to do with my growth and maturity than with theirs. In many ways, our children raise us, and parenting is a crucible for character formation and refinement. Very often we will be learning the lessons that we are teaching our children, but at a higher level.
– Intervened a bit more when my kids were fighting and squabbling, in order to help them get on better.
– Had more children. I haven’t ever met a couple who said, “ I wish we’d never had (insert name).
Most regrets err on the side of not having had more children. The most rewarding stage in life is on the other side of having raised children who have themselves become parents, and doing a good job. Young parents in the thick of things have too many challenges, and parenting is an unrelenting task. The costs of educating, feeding and clothing them is priority number one, so very often the thought of another child is like a tipping point!! It’s only later, as children become adult that the real joys kick in. I’ve often said that if you want more grandchildren, have more children! 😀
I hope I will….
– See my children raise godly, respectable children that are contributors to society.
– Become wiser, kinder and more patient as I grow older. Pray diligently and intelligently for my grand children, that they’d become everything that God intends for them to be and do.
– Get to take my grandchildren on some of our overseas trips in the future.
– Stay healthy and helpful into my old age.
– Die with my boots on! As I grow older, I’d like to do less, much better.
Paul Tournier once said, “It’s a dangerous thing to live with your golden years in the past.”
I think we can all look back with regrets for things we have done in the past- some only as far back as yesterday. But if we believe that our best days are ahead of us, we will begin to live more intentionally, and enjoy present moments so much more.
Thanks mama for sharing with us, I admire your openness and desire to always do better. I am honoured to be your daughter and will continue to learn so much from you xxxx