Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Raising Admirable Kids

To be an admirable Mom, one of my main goals in life, I need more than admiring kids. After all, it's no feat to get KIDS to admire you; if you simply show them gentle love, fierce support, and calm trust, you're a virtual superhero in their early years. But to get my grown-up children to admire me...now, that's the kind of admiration that really matters, for it is based not only on how I treat them, but on how I treat the world. And such admiration from them results, most importantly, in their becoming admirable themselves. My desire for their admiration is thus not about feeding my ego, but about contributing to the world.

When my son spontaneously hugs me after I've come home from visiting a sick relative, and whispers down (DOWN now, he's so tall!) into my hair, "You're such a good woman, Mom," I've begun to meet my goal. When my youngest teenage daughter says, "Mom, thank you so much for helping me follow my passion for acting and singing; I'm going to be the same way with my own kids," then I see HER as a future admirable Mom. When my oldest daughter, from college, tells me that her new friend is interested in reading my newest novel manuscript, I feel awed that my daughter admires me and my work enough to make it a topic of discussion with some young woman whom I've never met. "Oh my gosh, you told your friend about my novel?" I gush. And she replies matter-of-factly, "Well she loves poetry novels and yours is great, so I recommended it. I wish it would get published already!" My daughter, my fan. Sigh.

As I continue to raise my daughters and son into adulthood, I try to remember to ask myself, "Now how can I set the best example for the sake of my grandkids and great-grandkids (if I am so blessed)?" And though I might gripe about their lack of help with dishes or laundry, or try to instill responsibility with too many "No's" and not enough "Okay's" sometimes, I honestly, earnestly, try to be the kind of parent who catalyzes, rather than stifles, growth. Some of the most important words I can say as a Mom are "I trust you to make the right choice;" however, the importance of those words is contingent upon the value of my trust. Admirability must precede admiration.