We value and honor the voices of parents who are ahead of us on the parenting journey. They have a unique Vantage Point. We asked them, “Now that your children are adults, looking back to the season most of our parents are in, what would you say to us? What do you wish someone would have said to you? What do we need to know that might save us a lot of worry or time?” In this series of posts we will hear from experienced parents. Here is what Jill had to say.
“Do you realize that this is the only time in our lives that we will have the same digits in our age?” “Wow," he laughed, “how long have you been thinking about that one?” Not long, actually. I was just so struck that my son was turning 35. How could this be? Where had the time gone?
I remember, as a new parent, driving home for the first time with this new life for which I was totally responsible. I was overwhelmed. I was riddled with fear. What if something happened to him? His survival was dependent on ME! What if I did something wrong? And I would. We all do. I’ve always said God should give us a practice child first because most of us find that we are a much better parent the second time around. Thankfully, parenting comes with a learning curve.
As I look back at the years, it seems the mistakes are a little more glaring than the successes. While hindsight is 20/20, offering a clear view of the mistakes, it also is an opportunity to see the Lord’s hand in our journey. My perspective has offered the gift of now being able to encourage my children as they try to parent their own children.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I learned that a broken dish, no matter how priceless, does not hold nearly as much value as a broken heart. One can be replaced. The other cannot. I remember the difference it made it my son’s face when I was more concerned about him than the dish he had carelessly broken. And to be quite honest, looking back I don’t even remember which dish it was.
I learned that the tired and busy days will end all too soon. Treasure these moments. The days are long, but the years are short.
I learned that making traditions with my children would make memories that last. When my boys, who are eight years apart, became teenagers we got them their first tool box filled with the basic tools as a Christmas gift. Every year thereafter, we would get them another tool. Craftsman, no less. That way by the time they would leave home, they would have a full set of tools. This tradition has continued to this day. Only now, it becomes a little harder to find a tool they don’t already have, and they are getting a little more expensive! Another tradition of ours is that, every Christmas Eve, we open one gift. It is always pajamas so everyone has on a new pair for the pictures in the morning. Our hair may not be combed and faces not washed, but as long as they had on their new pjs, all would be well. Over the years, it became a game. They wanted to choose which present, so I started wrapping them in solid colored paper. I told them they could choose one of the solid colors. Their whines quickly turned to giggles. The best was the year I got us all the same pajamas and they glowed in the dark.These traditions have created many stories and laughs. They also became traditions they carry on with their children. Traditions are a thread, a bond, that ties a family together.
I learned that I was their guide. When my oldest entered high school I knew we had to attack head on all that he would face in a more challenging school situation. I determined that his day would be started with the Lord. While they ate breakfast I would read a chapter from the bible. Then we’d all kneel around the sofa and pray. Sometimes it was hectic and there were not always smiles, but if their day started with the Lord, they walked out of my house fully armed for what the enemy may throw at them. Church was never a choice for them, just like school was not. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 I have never regretted that decision. Some choices a child should not make. We don’t let them eat candy all day, nor cross a street without protecting them from harm. Don’t be afraid to say no. Just as the Lord is our constant Guide, you are theirs.
Be encouraged that one day you will look back and laugh. Smile at these moments now. And, you will NEVER regret being patient.
Jill Valencia is the mother of two grown sons, grandmother to four, a three-time cancer survivor and lives with purpose. Over 38 years ago she married her high school sweetheart, two years to the day after their first date. Jill and her husband Herb have been a part of National Community Church, Ballston Campus since 2009.