Monday, June 25, 2007

Three Things I Want My Kids to Appreciate

Anchorage, Alaska ZooJordan at MamaBlogga is hosting another group writing project this week and the writing prompt is "Three Things I Want My Kids to . . . " Now I'm not normally this introspective and solemn but here's my stab at the topic.

***

My parents left last week. They've moved to the other side of the planet for the next three years and I'm missing Mom already. Though she has lived within walking distance we've talked on the phone nearly every day and if something good or bad is happening one of the first things I do is call Mom.

So I've been thinking plenty about parenting and motherhood and what it takes to do the job well. It means so much more than just keeping the children warm and dry and fed, it's about teaching values, morality, ethics and how to pick up dirty socks and put them in the clothes hamper.

As I've thought about the task before me I've realized I've focused on three things I want my kids to learn to appreciate: three things that if I can teach them to value that their lives will better for it.

Education. All kids struggle with this I imagine but whenever my children make comments about how they dislike school, homework or their studies it bothers me. I remember having those same feelings but as I parent I recognize the precious gift of education and want my children to realize how many people have lived without access to what we often take for granted.

To be able to read and write, to be able to advance in your education as far as your stamina will allow is a blessing--not only is education the line between poverty and comfort but something that will elevate and enrich a life beyond what would be obtained by mere physical survival. I want them to realize this and be grateful for it. If not now while they're savoring their freedom from school for the summer, eventually. I want them to develop a love of learning that will extend beyond their classroom years and help them to look forward to what's around the corner.

Sacrifice. So many people have given up things so that my life can be better whether it's pioneering ancestors who left homes to look for a better life for their family, soldiers and patriots who gave (and are even now giving) their lives for their nation's freedom or parents and teachers who dedicated themselves for the benefit of others. If my children don't remember what others have done to help them they run the risk of thinking that they alone are to thank for the good things that happen to them and won't bother to look for others who might need their help.

Beauty. I want to be able to teach my children to appreciate what is beautiful and good whether it's beauty in art or goodness in others. I want them to stop when they see a spectacular sunset or a masterful painting, to pause a moment when they hear a brilliant symphony and to be able to recognize other people's good qualities and their potential.

It seems that though there is so much loveliness in the world today there is an increasing amount of ugliness. Gossip, despair, debauchery, gluttony--each are getting more and more air time and competing for my children's attention. If I can teach them to see the good and the beautiful in the world around them not only will it will keep them from focusing too much on themselves and make their lives better and happier but will keep them away from things that debase. What more could a mother want?

And I'm sure there are more things I'm supposed to be teaching them but I can't help but think that with some gratitude for these basics they'll go far.

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24 comments:

DS Writer said...

So so true. We parents have a big job on our hands especially when grandparents move away. It's hard true, but I appreciate your blog post even more for having now attempting to cope with this new situation. It's like finding your identity as a parent/women all over again. Now our parents are our shadows and we feel like kids all over again, when that comfort zone has left us. With that said, I'm scared too by my impending move to the States and my fear to not have Ivry see his grandparents as soon as we would like, with my folks living in Israel and I think technology in this respect, is a great asset.

You be good. Sorry for the long post.

Dorit

Heffalump said...

Well said.
Are your parents doing missionary work somewhere?
I am sure you are going to do fine. You will appreciate them that much more when they come back.

maggie said...

Those are three good things i wish i didn't overlook now and again. Good choices.

Becca said...

Ah, I think if you can instill those values, you have gone a long way to clearing the path for every other virtue they will learn.

Mary Alice said...

Beautiful.

chelle said...

All great things to have your children appreciate! I am still learning about appreciation and how I want our children to view it.

la bellina mammina said...

Great post Michelle.

Thanks!

susan said...

Parenting is such an enormous task, really quite scary if you let yourself think too much about it, all the responsibility of actually shaping a person's values.

Since I am now PK (post-kids), I try not to think about it too much, all the things I should have done, or done differently.

Good luck to all you parents out there, don't overthink it, just do the best you can, and try to have a little fun along the way!

Love your post, Michelle, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us cyber junkies.

~susan
~patchwork reflections
~memories in a jar

Jenn in Holland said...

Gratitude for those things being key.
Well said Scribbit!
Where in the world are Mom and Dad going? That's cool for them, but I know, hard for you.
Believe me, I get that!

Daisy said...

These are so true. To appreciate, yet not take for granted, so much of our lives...to make it short, it's not easy.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Education, sacrifice and beauty. Definite things we need to instill in our children. And with those values come gratitude, humility and hard work. These are all skills every human being should acquire. Great insights!

I hope you survive the next three years without your mom. I am sure it will be tough, but you are one strong woman!

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...

Thanks so much for the post, Michelle. I couldn't agree more with your three things, and I love the direction you took with the post (this is the direction I was hoping for, but I didn't want to limit the GWP). I might also add to beauty, "virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy" ;)

Sometimes, I worry about instilling too great a love of beauty in my little boy, as that's not "manly," but I want him to have an appreciation for beauty in things like music and film and other arts (as opposed to, say, flowers and dresses...?).

I reiterate my offer to send you cookies, too.

JAM said...

Wonderful post. I couldn't add one word to what you said. Just givin' ya some comment support here.

Mike said...

Love your post. Inspiring.

Growing up, my brother taught me about beauty. He made me watch the Miss Universe on TV, telling me to rate each contestant.

If my ratings correctly predicts the winner, I get my favorite treat then -- red jellybeans.

Please understand that I was 5 or 6 years old then.

The first contestant came out. She was beautiful. I gave her a 10. So with the second, third and so forth contestants.

I told my brother that I gave the winner a 10. My brother saw my rating sheet. He gave me black jellybeans and ordered me to do 10 push-ups.


Mike
http://somethingaboutparenting.typepad.com/

Mel said...

I am very proud of you honey. I hope you miss me too.

Dad

Lei said...

That is an impressive list. And I echo your thoughts... I'd say you're doing a fine job as a mother. :)

Corey~living and loving said...

lovely! Very lovely!

Haley-O said...

Inspiring post, as usual. those are three MAJOR concepts I want my children to appreciate, as well. Well put, Mich.

my4kids said...

Great post. I agree with all your comments I want the same thing for my kids.
I am the same about calling except its usually my dad. He doesn't always talk much but he lets me get off my chest when something is bothering me. We have lived within minutes of each other for the last 11 years the only break when we lived in AZ for 2 years. When we move up there they are soon going ot be moving to Texas. Seems like a world apart. It is kind of sad but I'm sure I will still be calling my daddy when I need him..

Robin said...

A beautiful post Michelle. It's things like this that make it so very clear to us all what an amazing mom you are.

The qualities I want to try and instill in my children is something I think of often. In fact, I saw that this was for a group writing project and decided to turn it into my own contribution to the group effort.

cheeky said...

I agree whole heartedly about the importance of all of these.
These certainly cover the core of values and what a blessing your children are receiving already because you care.

wayabetty said...

I can't imagine having my parents move so far from us. My Mom was here for 2 wks helping me with the new baby and it was so nice to have her around. And I too call her every day just to check up on things. I do know how you feel.

As for the 3 things that you've written, I totally agree with you on all three points. My parents always stressed that education is so important and I'm doing the same thing for my children. The sacrifice and the beauty part are right on as well. Kids now a day don't know what they have so they take things for granted, and I don't ever want my children to be like that ever.

The Late Bloomer said...

I just wanted to tell you that this was an absolutely beautiful post, Michelle. I don't have children of my own, but it is truly my greatest dream to have children, one day, and although the right time/moment hasn't seemed to have presented itself yet in my life, when that time comes, I hope to try to be half as good a mom as you obviously are with your children.

I live very, very far from my family in the U.S., as so many other expats over here do, and I do desperately miss my parents some days. And at the same time, I know the distance has also, strangely enough, somehow been healthy for our relationship. But I don't even want to think about how painful and difficult it must be after having children, especially since my boyfriend's mother passed away last year...

In any case, I just wanted to tell you that this was truly inspiring. Thank you!

Janean said...

Awesome post, Michelle. I totally agree!
I read your thirteen things about summer in Alaska and I'm missing my Mom, too, because she is up there with YOU for the summer! In Wasilla! Wah!
Wish I was. :D
Enjoy it while you can.