I was reading my favorite blog this morning and this blogger mom was writing about sending her oldest off to college and how difficult it is. I don't understand it yet because I'm still in the chasing-little-kids-around-counting-the-hours-until-bedtime phase ;) (okay not always, but sometimes), but still, when I think about quiet days at home with no kids around it squeezes my heart a little. I think about the fact that, once they leave, they will be pretty much past the point of our influence. They will have to rely on the things they have already learned when they go out on their own. I usually think of the coming years as making the most of spending time with them and taking in moments while they are small, but lately I have been seeing these years ahead as just as much as a prep phase as anything. We are teaching and preparing them to be adults. When I had Olivia and was trying to figure out the whole sleep/wake/eat schedule and trying to get her to actually sleep at night I came to the realization that she would have to be taught EVERYTHING. Little Liv didn't even know what day and night were. She didn't know which was for sleeping. She didn't know how to calm herself in order to sleep. She didn't know she'd have to eat more than a couple of minutes in order to feel satisfied. It was up to me to help her learn what do to to be full, well-rested, and happy. Essentially, how to survive here. The same goes for every other new thing my girls have and are going to encounter. Sure, now that these two are past the learning-to-eat-phase, and not shoving their fingers into light sockets or tumbling down the stairs I could throw them into a new situation and I'm sure they'd figure it out; but how much better for them (and mind-easing for me) that I do my best to prepare them for the challenges and adventures they face.
So on to my next query: what do I want to teach my children in the years they are with me?
This could be a huge, daunting list, one that will not always go according to plan and that's fine. As long as I'm working on it and adding to it though, I think I will be in the right line of thinking and trying. And as my favorite blogger says, I will be a "deliberate parent." So here is the start of my list. In just the order it comes to me.
- You are never alone. You have a Heavenly Father who loves you no matter what you do and is always there for your comfort and guidance. You will also always have an earthly home with your parents that will be a safe haven for you. We will never quit on you and will never judge you, our love for you will never fail.
- Prayers don't work unless you do. Opportunities and blessings come to those who try hard and never stop. Do not wait for good things to come to you, work your butt off to make them happen. Live the life you want. Laziness and entitlement are ugly traits.
- Most of the time when someone treats you badly it is because they feel badly about themselves. Boys can be mean. Girls can be meaner. It has no reflection on who you are as a person, only who they are.
- Pick friends who make you feel good and happy and whole. Be around people who have light and make you feel your own light. You don't have time for friends who make you feel tired or bad.
- Your body is special and it is up to you what happens to it. Nobody can touch you in ways that make you feel uncomfortable and nobody can make you touch them. If this happens, leave the situation immediately. Do not worry about being polite.
- Always be kind. One of our tests here on earth is to see how we treat others. Always go above and beyond in making people feel good about themselves. Always look for need in others. Be the friend to those who don't seem to have many and make it your job to uplift people. This is never the wrong thing to do. If you see someone being treated badly, speak up in a way you feel comfortable about.
- Do not spend more money than you have and always set aside enough for your needs before you consider your wants. Always have a savings for when you truly need it, and then if the time comes that you have to use it make it a top priority to build that savings back up.
- Prayer is real and powerful and saving. You have the ability to receive personal revelation from God in daily decisions and woes, big and small. Your mom and dad both have extremely strong testimonies of prayer and will take every opportunity to pray as a family and personally.
- The better you treat your body, the better it will treat you. Don't put artificial things in it. Eat and do things that make you feel healthy and strong.
- Don't gossip. Don't speak badly of others. It makes you sound insecure.
- You have instincts that are there to serve you. If a situation feels wrong, get out of it immediately. Trust yourself.
- Grades matter. Work hard for knowledge and be at the top of your class. It puts you ahead in school, in relationships, in jobs, and in life more than you will know.
- One of the worst feelings in the world is regret. There will be many many things that you will never again have the opportunity to do. So even though it may be terrifying, go out for the team. Talk to that girl or boy. Travel. Apologize. Do new things. Eat new foods. Make friends in every possible way. Don't say no to a good experience. Make as many memories as you can in this life so you never have wonder what would have happened if you had done it.