It's been said that as parents, it is our job to work ourselves out of a job. Or to see our children to that place of adulthood where our job description is significantly and irreversibly altered.
We do that by shining our parenting light into our adult world (as an example) and into our children's world (as a nurturer).
I want to encourage you to continue to shine in the humble servant’s position that is parenthood. It is a job in which you may not get a lot of accolades, but shine anyway.
Two years ago, I began writing for Patch. Though I had hundreds of publication credits to my name, this was something new: the discipline of weekly deadlines. Writing “The Growth Chart” grew me in completely unexpected ways. And it was good. It was also a great adventure, because I was now a columnist! I could write about whatever subjects I chose!
In that time, some of my favorites have included series on: discipline, infant development/bonding through lap games and face-to-face communication, talking to our children about issues of sexual integrity, true beauty, volunteerism, encouraging children to find their own unique bent — gifts and talents, and of course, stories about my own beloved children.
At the core of all of these articles, really, is Light.
My goal in writing, from the beginning, was not so much to provide answers as it was to open dialogue and encourage critical thinking. To help us spur one another on, as parents. To enlighten one another. It has always been my hope to encourage parents to model authentic living for children so they can be the very best they can be.
That’s why I love the name “The Growth Chart.”
Sometimes we don’t realize how much our children have grown until we put them up against the wall and draw the latest line, then look back at where they’ve been. The same is true for us parents. We have to look back to where we’ve come from to see the real growth. Unlike marks on a wall, our parenting achievements seem less tangible, yet they are there, if we look closely.
We find them in our little ones’ hugs. Or improved grades. Or athletic achievements or perseverance. Or when it's your kid in the spotlight, singing that solo. We see it in the kindnesses they show to others or the blessing they can be even to strangers. Every time our son or daughter opens a door for someone or shows a small kindness, it is a positive mark on our parenting wall. When they finish pre-school or elementary school or high school or college, or have their own little ones, we see the strength of their own good choices and how those impact their world with Light.
These are all marks on our Growth Chart.
Two years ago, when I wrote my bio for Patch, I said that I love hats, and I wear a lot of them, but that my Mommy hat was my most favorite. That is still true. There is nothing more fulfilling or meaningful in this life than to invest in the life of a child — especially your own.
There is nothing I want more at this point in my life than to invest myself fully in my children. They may be teenagers, but the fact is that they need me now, perhaps more than ever. I want to be fully present in their lives and help them to know my love and support as never before.
I look forward to that. It is my light to shine. It is my highest calling, and I pray they will find me worthy. I know that you feel that way, too.
Trust that you are indeed worthy. Take a moment to tip your hat to the parent in the mirror. That Mom or Dad deserves to be honored.
Thank you, Dear Patch Reader, for your loyalty to “The Growth Chart.” It has been a wonderful two years. Thank you to my Facebook Friends who followed and commented, to Patch readers who opened dialogue and sent me messages telling me how much they appreciated my words. Most of all, I want to thank my children, who came along willingly on this journey, allowing their stories to be told often, without complaint or embarrassment. Kody and Kay — you are the most amazing children I have ever known, and I am so proud that I get to be your Mama. .
To my editor, Morgan Day: you are great fun and I love you dearly. You have been wonderful to work for and a true encouragement in my life. Thank you for valuing my column and for looking forward to reading it each week, even though you are not yet a parent (training ground for someday when you don the Mommy Cap!) I know the day that you had to tell me that the run of this column was drawing to a close (with the year’s end) was not an easy day for you. But you handled that task, as you have everything about your position, with grace and appreciation. You are not merely my editor; you have become my friend.
So it is with these words of thanks and encouragement to all of you that I write this final column of “The Growth Chart.” I have grown more than I could have anticipated, and I know that you have too.
As promised, this series “Light” will continue into the New Year. But here’s the catch: I’m relying on you, Patch parents, to make that happen.
I believe with my whole heart that we parents are created to be light for our children, and in that way, we are, as Jesus said, “the light of the world.” The light is carried in us and through us and passed along to our children, who carry it into their world. And their children’s. And on and on it goes.
I will miss the opportunity to dialogue with you. But I know you are capable parents, full of Light.
I tip my hat to all who carry that torch.