Thursday, January 30, 2014

The "To Be" List

Alzheiemer's dementia caregiver checklist

Any parent will tell you that there is a great deal of pride involved in raising kids.  Sure, there is frustration.  You'll have moments of anger, disappointment or sadness.  Some days you'll wake up to find a diaper malfunction situation that requires 4 wipes before you can even get close enough to remove the diaper. (You can't make this stuff up.  This is my life.) But tossed in the mix you'll also have happiness, glimpses of wonder, laughter, joy and moments of true pride. 

There are the big when your kid gets a scholarship to Harvard, or when your son makes the Olympic ski team.  The stuff movies are made of.  The things that makes a moms heart nearly sick with overwhelming pride. 

My kids are still growing, still learning and still finding their niche in the world.  Their "mountaintop moments" of curing cancer or successfully negotiating a peace agreement in the middle east are still ahead of them (No pressure kids.  No pressure....).  These are the days of smaller, quieter (but no less important) pride-filled moments. 
  • My 5-year old daughter encouraging me with, "That's ok Mommy, we can do hard things." when I was getting a irritated wrestling with a Polly Pocket wardrobe change.
  • My 2-year old getting his pants on all by himself.  Sometimes they are backwards.  Or maybe inside out.  But he can do it himself.
  • Our teenager putting the trash cans out at the curb on trash day.  All. By. Herself.  No nagging.
  • Hearing your toddler remind your preschooler, "Stop!  That's not safe." When he sees her doing something that might result in a black eye or broken arm. 
  • Watching your young daughter learn to (carefully, painstakingly) write her name.
  • Kids picking up clothes off the floor and throwing them in the laundry basket without anyone asking them to do it.
  • Seeing your kid pick water over juice at a birthday party.  (Yes, I'm that mom.)
  • Clutching your heart as you watch your little guy dust himself off and go right back to climbing the playground ladder that bucked him off his feet moments earlier. 
Really the pride comes from catching small glimpses of hope that your kids are developing into kind, capable humans.  Seeing proof that your mistakes aren't ruining them and some lessons are actually transmitting and translating into positive life behaviors....those are small miracles, people.  Small miracles.  It's the pride-inducing fuel that keeps mommies around the world charged up and ready for a new day. 

In the chaos of shuttling kids to and fro, making dinner, cleaning house, wiping noses, potty training, monitoring homework, doing laundry, baking cookies for the class party, and paying the bills, one can sometimes get distracted from the important stuff.  It's the ultimate mommy challenge...taking the focus off of the "to do" list and making time for the "to be" list.  What do we want our kids to be?  Or, more accurately, how do we want our kids to be?  That is the true heart of parenting. 

I want my kids to be confident enough to do it themselves, caring enough to notice when others need help, and grounded enough to know they are not the center of the universe.  Really, in a nutshell, that's about it.  Kind, capable humans. If they cure cancer too, great.  If not, just let them be kind and capable as they go about cleaning toilets or joining the circus or whatever it is God has planned for them. 

I'm type-A.  Believe me when I say the call of my "to do" list is strong.  So I watch and listen carefully for these quiet moments, these small miracles.  Because they remind me that the "to be" list is my focus in this stage of life.  They force me to step back, look at the big picture and put my actions into perspective. On those days when I feel less than perfect as a mom (Which, let's face it...come around more frequently than we might like.) I can sometimes focus in and see fragments of what I want my kids to be.  In spite of my imperfections, my short temper, my burnt dinner, or my failure to bring the perfect Pinterest Valentine crafts come to life, these small moments ARE my mountaintop moments. 

It's not easy, this parenting business.  But that's ok.  We can do hard things. 

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