Last week during a visit to my mother’s house during spring break, I found myself having a rare opportunity to relax by myself for a few moments. I was sitting on the beach and watching a little boy about three playing joyfully in the sand. I thought to myself that it was only yesterday when I could not take my eyes off my two busy toddlers as they ran back and forth from the surf. Now my eldest was half-way across the world on the Bearing Witness trip visiting Dachau and Auschwitz, and my youngest was somewhere on the island doing an eight mile run by himself. When the kids were young, the days could feel so very long. I often reminded myself, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
I cannot believe that we are already in third term. Where has this year gone? I have been told that time goes by more quickly the older we get, and this has proved to be true. My daughter was sick this week and was home from school yesterday. We were lying in bed together chatting, and I thought to myself how the next two years of her time at Marist are going to go by so very quickly. In some ways I want to just stop time, or at least slow it down to make the moments really count.
I really enjoy a blog written by a very grounded Christian college student named Grace Valentine (gracevalentine.org). Although this list is written from the point of view of a girl, many of the life lessons could be translated to our sons as well. She encourages young girls to embrace their innocence, and stop trying to grow up too fast.
51 Things I Wish I Knew in High School (from gracevalentine.org, 12/31/15)
- Do not spend more than $9 on mascara. CVS sells ones that work just fine.
- It won’t matter later on that he was on a high school football team.
- Your push-up bra is obvious.
- Chill with the eyeliner.
- If he cheats on you, say goodbye.
- Stop subtweeting or Facebooking your life.
- Don’t tell your mom you hate her; you will regret it.
- Innocence is beautiful.
- Call your grandma just because.
- Some people will never like you; don’t let it bother you.
- Kill them with kindness.
- TPing/Rolling houses is all fun and games till it rains and you have to clean it up.
- You were beautiful before he told you.
- Don’t believe stereotypes. Get to know people personally instead of judging them.
- Don’t let one mistake define you.
- But learn from your mistakes.
- Eat home-cooked meals. You will miss it one day.
- Your mom can see a fake friend before you can.
- Your dad can see a crappy boy before you can.
- Enjoy your metabolism while it lasts.
- There is more to life than Friday night.
- If your parents buy you something, whether it’s a McDonald’s or an iPhone, say thank you.
- You are more beautiful than you will ever know.
- Prom is not the “best night of your life,” but go anyway.
- High school years are not the best years of your life.
- However, enjoy high school while it lasts, you will miss some of it.
- Bad times make you appreciate the good times.
- It’s only a bad day, not a bad life.
- Stop comparing yourself to others; that will never do any good.
- Learn to forgive. Also learn that not everyone deserves your trust.
- Learn to apologize.
- He isn’t the love of your life.
- Sex does not make you mature or an adult.
- Stop pretending to be someone you are not to impress people.
- Keep a journal.
- You’ll regret spending $90 on that Abercrombie fur vest.
- Eat the dang doughnut.
- Five for $27, appreciate it, and never forget it.
- Pray for your future husband every once in a while.
- Pray for your future kids too.
- Take those ACT prep classes seriously.
- Hug your grandpa every chance you get.
- Write thank you notes for everything.
- Tell your favorite high school teacher she rocks.
- Nothing good happens past midnight.
- Put others before yourself.
- Unless that person is an ex-boyfriend. You deserve happiness – stop worrying about him.
- If you love God, then you should love people.
- His plan is greater than yours (Romans 8:28).
- Stop speeding; especially on turns. Also stop at stop signs.
- Enjoy life. It goes by faster than you think.
These thoughts of hers make me think that my time is shorter than I think for imparting words of wisdom, values and life lessons on my children before they are out of my reach. Then I have to remind myself that I have been trying to do this their entire lives, and probably will continue to do so even when they are adults! Even my 74 year old mom has moments where she still wants to parent 47 year old me – I think that inclination never quite goes away.
“Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
I also have to remind myself that I am not perfect. In fact, I make a lot of parenting mistakes and mishaps. However, I pray for guidance, strength and patience, and ask God to help me to be the best parent that I can be.
“Perfect families do not exist. This must not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Love is something we learn; love is something we live; love grows as it is ‘forged’ by the concrete situations which each particular family experiences. Love is born and constantly develops amid lights and shadows.”
– Pope Francis, during visit to Cuba and the U.S. (source: Lifeteen.com)
So I am going to continue to try and train my not-so-young children in “they way they should go,” and hope they remember at least a few of the times that I actually got it right. And I will continue to work on my mission of helping them to know, love and serve God every day on their journey toward adulthood.
“And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.”
– Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, April 24, 2005
If you have a spare moment, take a look and listen to a favorite song of mine called “Blink” by Revive that encourages us as parents to slow down the pace of our crazy life and enjoy these gifts of children we’ve been given. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4itARWKR-A)
Peace to all of you on your journey towards Easter.