Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In Praise of Parenting: It's the Big Things That Count

This entry is dedicated to my parish friend, Kimberly of Catholic Family Vignettes. Kimberly and her wonderful husband have a great, big Catholic family of nine children. Several no longer live at home, but most of her crew do and from observing them over the past few months, I can honestly say it's one big happy family.

I am always blessed to see families. I don't have children of my own, but yet I adore kids and feel the pang of childlessness on occasion. Still, what I do is love my niece and nephew and spend as much time as possible with them, and simply "love on" any kid that comes near enough to be hugged. Children are such a blessing in many ways. They allow us to view the world through their eyes, teach us patience, and give us opportunities to love, learn, and rejoice.

On Sunday, I told Kimberly something that's been on my mind regarding children and decided to share it with you. Some of you are parents and may feel saddened that you can't provide the glossy material stuff this culture craves. "But all my girlfriends have a Blackberry!" your thirteen-year old daughter may say. However, what your daughter may not know is how hard you work to make sure there's enough food on the table and splurging on expensive technology isn't on your list of "must have's."

Awhile ago, Kimberly had one of the best posts I had read in some time regarding poverty. What is poverty, really, for the average American? Is it truly not having enough food to eat or is it not having all the tech toys you want? She explains her answer to her son when he asked, "Mom, are we poor?" here.

On Sunday, I told her this: I was raised in a middle-class neighborhood with a father who made a very decent living. My mother was able to stay home with us while growing up. The only thing I really remembered wanting that "all the other kids had" was a jean jacket. But I don't remember any particular toys that I was crushed by not receiving. I don't remember all the "things" that didn't come through for my brother and I.

What I do remember is the love. I remember my mother stretching herself out on the floor while my brother and I took our naps during a particularly scary thunderstorm because we were afraid. She figured if both of us could see her, we'd feel safer. So my brother saw her head during a few minutes and I saw her legs. Then she'd switch so I saw her head and my brother had a view of her legs. It worked. We both fell asleep quickly.

I remember my father attending our sports events when he could. I remember both our parents telling us constantly how much they loved us, how they believed in us, and how they encouraged us to not give up, to not allow the bullies to get us down, and to strive to be the best we could be. I remember knowing that no matter what, my parents were in our corner.

Those are the big things. All the other "stuff" that this culture says is so important - isn't. It doesn't matter if you live in an apartment, a trailer, or a spacious home. It doesn't matter if you drive an old 1995 Chevrolet or a 2008 Lexus. It doesn't matter if you clothe your children with Abercrombie & Fitch or WalMart. What does matter is if you tell them you love them, listen to their hopes, dreams, and fears - and you're there not just when they need you, but when they want you. What matters is being there but allowing them to fall, knowing it's a part of life and you'll be there to help dust them off and try again. What matters is that you believe in them.

I know my brother and I have been incredibly blessed to have received what every child yearns to have: not only our physical needs, but our spiritual and emotional needs met as well. So if you're wondering "what more" you can do for your child, there's a pretty good chance that what they really need can't be ordered online or through a catalog. It's right there, in your heart.


Kimberly said...

Mary Rose:

What a beautiful and uplifting post! And so "right on." I'm humbled by your loving description of my family and the poignant memories you've shared from your precious childhood...this quote touches my heart so deeply:

So if you're wondering "what more" you can do for your child, there's a pretty good chance that what they really need can't be ordered online or through a catalog. It's right there, in your heart.

Words of wisdom...

Thank you, my friend! This post made my day!

X said...

If kids don't have love, they have nothing. I was raised in a single parent home but I always knew I was loved. My ex was raised in an "intact" home but his parents treated him poorly. I would say I got the better deal.

zetor said...

As Jesus said, 'the greatest of these is Love'. Children need that more than anything else. Love your post.