Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you. (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.) How we choose to live our lives affects many more than those in our immediate circle of influence. Our children, our children's children and their children on down through the generations become the recipients of the example we set in the here and now. A wise man once told me that what we "tolerate" in our lives today will become the foundation for us moving closer and closer to tolerating something just a little worse down the road until one day we are so far from what we once stood for that it is hardly even recognizable anymore. Nothing could be more true.
The righteous live with integrity; happy are their children who come after them. (Proverbs 20:7 CEB)
I know there were days when my kids were growing up where my "example" slipped a little. I sometimes lost my cool over stuff that really didn't matter all that much. I opted for a quick meal that probably lacked all the nutritional quality a mom is supposed to ensure her children get just because I was too exhausted to make it, or argue with them to eat it once made. I focused on just making it to the end of the day on some days. There were indeed days when they frustrated me to no end and others where I saw the tender graces of God's goodness shining through their lives. Sometimes I wondered how "marred" or "scarred" they would be because of me raising them as a single parent. If I look back now, I can see moments when God "graced me" with his goodness, protecting my kids from disastrous consequences and sheltering all of us in his watchful care.
Although parents don't expect accolades from their children, there are those moments as adults where they just touch your heart in some special way, letting you know all those years of "hard parenting" didn't go to waste. They put their arm around you and squeeze hard - just making that momentary connection that says "I love you" louder than any words. They reach out when their lives are falling to pieces and they just need to know their momma is there. They call when it thunders and know you won't tell them to stop being a baby and just grow up. They show up one day with a load of pallets just because you mentioned you'd like to reclaim a few for a project in the yard. In small ways, they give you glimpses into their lives that show you it all mattered - no matter how hard it may have been.
Some parents don't always get these glimpses, though. Some children choose to walk away, severing relationship with them and not even looking back. Others were taken from this earth way too soon, leaving a huge gap no parent really wants to endure. Still others find their children's lives way to busy and filled with all manner of "other stuff", making time together with their parents just a very low priority. My heart breaks for those who don't have these glimpses into the lives of their children - for it truly is the reward of a parent to know those hard years of parenting weren't for naught. The heart of a parent can swell at the success of a child as deeply as it can fall into despair over not knowing these successes. It truly is a hard job to be a parent!
The most I can say to those who are parents today, considering parenthood in the future, or who will "parent" others in some role in this lifetime is that EVERY moment matters. The good ones stick out, but how we make it through the "bad ones" might just speak even clearer to those we parent in this lifetime. We want to be remembered for the good ones, but it is quite possible how we handled the bad ones actually helped them more. Our example cannot be underestimated - for we never know how much that one moment matters until we see the "value" of it through the eyes of the one who emulates that example down the road. Sometimes all we can do is what some label as "our best", then trust God with the rest. Just sayin!