I recently read about a woman who was lamenting the fact that her son, now a young adult, never called home or had much contact with her at all. She wondered why she had bothered with all that was required of his childhood—the diapers, the PTA meetings—when the rewards would be so few once he had flown her nest. How sad to think, in retrospect, she could find so little that was enjoyable about his upbringing.
And then I thought about a parallel mother, whom I’ve known for many years. Her son died suddenly at the age of 22. She holds close to her heart wonderful memories of a precious child whose potential was never fully known. He had just finished college and was on his way to becoming a youth pastor when he died. Thankfully his mother takes solace in the time she spent nurturing and guiding her son. If the two women were to meet, I can’t help but wonder if the first one might have a change of heart.
How we view our roles as parents is up to us. We can perceive the mountains of laundry and dirty dishes as drudgery. Or we can plow into the day-to-day with the notion that this is part of it. Sure there are other things I’d rather do than housework, but it’s my role in this family. And as my children get older, it is with delight and obligation to their maturation process that I get to teach them how to do chores—first by my side and later on their own. How I approach this role will directly affect how they view their responsibilities. Will they tackle their tasks with dread? Probably some of the time, because I know I do. But I have no doubt their attitudes will be a direct reflection of mine.
When the boys were toddlers, I learned pretty quickly that saying, “Let’s go play in the tub!” was greeted with much more enthusiasm than, “You have to take a bath.” The end result was the same; the difference was in the approach.
I keep a favorite quote on my desk that reads: Every step of the journey is the journey. If we become so focused on what our kids might one day become, we might miss out on the exciting steps—and missteps—they make along the way.
Chores, meetings, errands, carpooling, dental and doctor appointments. They are all part of raising a family. If I choose to delight in the process, find humor in the ordinary, rejoice in the routine, how much richer my life and the lives of my children will be!