Kerrville Daily Times
Recently, I learned that the solemn U.S. flag-folding ceremony carries a tribute with each fold: “The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it is through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.”
Amen! Why are we not giving as much praise and honor to nurturing activities as we used to?
Certainly, the problems perplexing our nation reveal a need for good character: honesty, integrity, good will, civility and respect in speech, empathy and compassion for suffering.
It’s true that acquiring such character is best begun with wee ones. We still have many women and men who do give their children the security of being well-loved while modeling and teaching these values. It’s when someone shows no remorse whatsoever about committing a horrendous act that we realize not all children are so fortunate.
As a single person, I admit to thinking work and activities that challenged the mind were significantly more important than raising children. Once into parenting, it became, “Why did I ever think this was a no-brainer? This is the toughest thing I’ve ever done!”
We got off to a rather rocky start bringing our firstborn home. In no time, diaper doo doo was all over her beautifully prepared crib. How could we have been that inept?
A friend had warned, “The first couple weeks or so will be hell, but it gets better.” I took comfort from that, and later passed it on to other moms-to-be. She was right — no chance for a good night’s sleep tending to this demanding little creature.
Gradually, we increased in skills, and she slept longer. The shock of new parenthood may be to inform us, “You think you’re an unselfish person? Think again. You’re just getting started.”
While I pushed her along buying groceries in Argentina’s individual shops, a small child, fascinated with her intensely blue eyes, tried to touch them.
Mama went ballistic, like a cow who thinks her calf is threatened. When I calmed down, I was shocked at my reaction — such fiercely protective motherly love out of control. But it’s wonderful God puts it inside us.
Once, cuddling her little brother, I asked, “Do you know I love you lots and lots?”
He answered, “I’ve known that since I’ve known anything.”
They know it still, and that nothing will ever change it.
That’s not to say disciplining them was a piece of cake. In regards to our daughter, I was soon devouring books on “The Strong-Willed Child.” I prayed, “How on earth can I handle this child when she’s a teenager?”
God was gracious — by then our “take-charge daughter” was making supper while I finished piano teaching. Leadership qualities have enabled her to rise high in the corporate world while caring for her own daughter and a husband who also excels in his career.
Our son survived having three parents, is now a Navy commander whose capable wife manages to keep up with him and two active boys.
For various reasons, church is not every Sunday for them, but I’m delighted that my children value and teach integrity, responsibility, love, generosity and helpfulness to others. Perhaps it’s more caught than taught.
I marvel at the way today’s women balance all they do. My daughter blocks her calendar to attend school events and allows her team similar privileges. My daughter-in-law homeschools the boys in the morning, then transports them to sports and music activities.
When I visit, I share some of it but need a nap. My daughter also teaches college classes online and loves making salable craft items. All that, plus lots of weekend camping.
It helps that today’s men share the entirety of tasks a lot more than previously was customary.
Soon, we’ll be together for Thanksgiving, my daughter in charge in a good way, my son cooking some, others of us peeling a few potatoes? And we’ll have board games and football.
I’ve failed to mention the fun and laughter along the way. How I wish everyone had it. It doesn’t just happen.
I’m so grateful to God for walking me through things, when I was in over my head and didn’t know what to do. That help is available for the asking, the amazing gift families who love each other despite significant differences of opinion.