A profound revelation washed over me in a sketchy public restroom stall.
As I painstakingly teetered over my little one to wipe her tush, she peered up with a smile to boast, “Mommy! I did it! I went potty without touching anything!”
Indeed, she had kept her hands to herself, her legs on the dry part of the seat, and her skirt off the floor. It was an incredibly proud moment.
That’s when it occurred to me: this is what my child thinks is important to me—that she remain as sanitized as possible when approaching a precarious toilet. Is that really the message I want to embed in her precious little heart? Well, maybe. But, there’s so much more.
I hope and pray that what my children hear me saying (pleading, nagging) today will somehow translate into a beautiful gift and life lesson later.
Today: “Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Wash your face. Tie your shoes.”
The Beautiful Lesson: First impressions matter. If you manage these little things, you can be trusted with bigger things. Your great-grandmother used to apply lipstick before walking to the mailbox. On the farm. So, if nothing else, remember where you came from and look respectable.
Today: “It’s 6 a.m. Please withhold your list of demands until I’ve had my coffee and assessed the day.”
The Beautiful Lesson: Every relationship must have boundaries. Even the people who love you the most must have a small break from you at times. If you need something from someone, wait for the right time and think of ways to bless them in return.
Today: “Yes, there are peas in your mac-n-cheese. No more fruit snacks today. Drink your milk.”
The Beautiful Lesson: Something crazy happened in grocery stores during your childhood. Food was replaced with ambiguous combinations of chemicals and artificial colors. You might develop a health problem some day, but it won’t be because your mom only doled out snacks that turned your fingers orange and washed them down with drinks concocted from ingredients too long to pronounce.
Today: “Twenty minutes on your DS is plenty. No screen time on Sundays. No PG-13 ‘til you’re 13!”
The Beautiful Lesson: Your brain is developing a zillion pathways, and I’m convinced that you’ve got astonishing potential. Surely, things will go awry if you spend your childhood staring at screens. Use your time wisely; read a good book; develop your passions; play outside.
As for the movies, the images you allow in through your eyes can never be deleted. Enjoy this sheltered life while you can; the real world has ugly problems and you can be part
of the solution and lose sleep over it when you’re older.
Today: “No, I don’t want to go on the Turbo-Twisty-Toilet-Bowl Waterslide again. I’ll take pictures for your scrapbook, hold your wet towels and buy your snacks.”
The Beautiful Lesson: I love you enough to endure endless days at noisy, crowded water parks because here’s the deal: I want you to be deliriously, unabashedly happy.
Scratch that. I want you to be deliriously, unabashedly joyful. Happiness is based on your circumstances, but joy is much deeper, and you can have it even when your swimsuit’s in a bunch.
There’s a chance that my children may leave the nest without fully grasping the meaning behind my mothering. Surely, they will groan as they hang out as adults and commiserate about their childhood.
They may never verbally thank me, but my reward will come later.
If my blessings ever include grandchildren, I’ll fully enjoy handing over the reins of responsibility. Grandma’s mac-n-cheese won’t have any peas!
Amy Brase never expected to stumble into a writing career while raising kids at home. She submitted her first column to Rochester Women magazine seven years ago and has blossomed under the wing of her editor, Ellington Miller Starks. She’d like to thank Ellington for the endless encouragement, wisdom and friendship.