What Will Your Kids Say About You Someday?

Tomorrow is my mom’s 60th birthday.  There is no way to begin describing how wonderful my mom was and is.  I had a wonderful childhood.  My parents loved me, provided for me, supported me, and went to the ends of the world for me – my mom still does.

My mom, Diana, is an amazing example of love and generosity; she would truly give you the shirt off her back.  I know of no one else in the world as giving and as generous – even if the giving is to her detriment sometimes.  She’s simply selfless.

This birthday is bittersweet for my mom – as all her birthdays have been since my dad’s death in January 2008 – because my mom was married on her birthday.  So, tomorrow as she celebrates 60 years of life, I am sure she’ll be keenly aware that she should also be celebrating 41 years of marriage. Not just any marriage either.   A solid, love-filled marriage.

When I decided to slow my family’s life this year, my upbringing and my parent’s example were motivating factors.  I remember our family dinners and camping trips with friends to VAA and big family gatherings.  I don’t remember feeling deprived or slighted at Christmas, birthdays, or ever really.  I don’t remember busy evenings and Sundays.  I remember watching the Wild West or the Lone Ranger and football with my dad while my mom fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and snapped beans.

These are the memories I want for my kids, too.  I want Hannah and Owen to remember our family and friend time.   I know they’ll remember many experiences, but I truly want them to remember and value relationships most.

I pray my kids see Steve and me as I saw my parents in 1997.

I was 21 years old, and  I wrote an essay, which earned them the 1997 Mountaineer Parents of the Year at West Virginia University.

I want to share this essay because it demonstrates clearly how thankful a 21-year-old college student can be for her family if a firm foundation has been laid in her heart.

In essence, this essay describes best how I pray Hannah feels about Steve and me when she’s 21.  And, if that’s going to happen – if Hannah is going to respect, honor, love, and appreciate us  – and our faith – as much as I did and do my parents, we have to do something now.  We have to begin pouring into her now.  We have to show her what my parents showed me – love, acceptance, and sacrifice.

As you read my essay,  I hope you see the greatness of my parents in the midst of my young words. And, I pray this is how your kiddos feel about you when they turn 21 and think the world is theirs for the taking as I did:)!

Every morning, she prepared breakfast.  Every night, she tucked me in tightly.  Every week, she washed my clothes to be worn again the next week.  Every month, I watched her struggle, wondering where the bill money would come from.  Every year, she pulled us through as a family. My mom, my mentor, and my friend trusted God through the tough times and gave my family many happy memories. 

Every morning, he gave a kiss goodbye and encouraging wish for the day.  Every night, he spoke a reassuring word as he patted my head.  Every week, he mowed the lawn.  Some months, I’d watch him job hunt as he filled in as “Mr. Mom.”  Every year, he protected and guarded us as our family matured together.  My dad, my friend, and my hero survived two disheartening layoffs and never gave up on himself or his family.

This is only a short description of the two extraordinary individuals who made me the young lady I am today.  Words can never express my love and indebtedness to my parents; however, I overwhelmingly feel they deserve to finally be honored for their perseverance through tough times without every denying my sister or me all we needed, or thought we needed. Although I remember a teary-eyed mom as she said no time after time because we didn’t have the money, my parents never said no to higher education, and for this reason, I am a WVU student today. 

When I began considering college, my parents looked fearful but assured me that together my family could work it out.  Although neither of them have a college degree, their dream was for me to become a Mountaineer.  They encouraged me to excel academically with the hope I would earn scholarships, so I did.  They encouraged me to develop good leadership and social skills, so I tried.  They took me to the library to use financial aid resources, so I went.  Together, we filled out application after application, and I received enough aid to attend college. 

When it came time to choose a college, I knew my choice would be WVU – for them.  I grew up listening to Mountaineer football and basketball games on the radio, so I hoped this decision would make my Mountaineer-fan parents proud.  After all, my dad mows lawns on weekends and my mom works overtime in case I need extra spending money.  

Even though I feel I have made them proud, I think it is their turn to be proud of themselves, for they have encountered many hard times.  My mom is a secretary in a law office, and my dad is a clerk in a tire store.  They still live in the same trailer park in which I grew up; however, they have never resented those who have more or relinquished their faith in God, who puts food on the table and hope in their hearts.  No one has ever patted them on the back and simply said, “Good job.”  Therefore, it is time for me to properly thank my mom and dad, who never missed an elementary school social studies fair, a middle school parent-teacher conference, a high school band performance, or a college awards banquet.

Every morning, I think of them.  Every night, I pray for them.  Every week, I receive a card or note from them.  Every month, I go home to visit, or they come to Morgantown.  Every year, I see more pride in their eyes as my college graduation approaches this May.  Their support of me and my education has been unending, and although they may not be outstanding for some wonderful task they’ve performed, their 21-year commitment to my life is worth more than I or you could ever give.  Regardless of whether or not my parents are honored at the football game, I honor them in my heart and thank God each day he chose them to be my parents.  I could not be the person I am today without their unending love, strong support, firm discipline, inspirational guidance, and continual reassurance.

I wrote that 14 years ago, and I still feel the exact same way.  I pray this essay gives you a reason to slow down and reflect on what you hope your kids write about you someday.  Perhaps you could write a letter from your grown children to you and your husband.  Date the letter 10 or 15 years from now.  What do you want them to say about you?  Your marriage?  Your family life?  Your priorities?  What can you do now that will direct their paths that way?

(Happy 60th Birthday, Madre:)

Comments

  1. No wonder you won…That was a great essay 🙂 Love Lori

    Happy Birthday Diana 🙂

  2. Thanks, Lori:) As I was retyping it, I had to fight hard NOT to edit/rephrase/correct. It was clearly my “college” voice.

    And…thanks for the birthday wishes….I think my mom had a wonderful day:)

  3. Laura Gardner says:

    Sarah,
    I am sitting here reading your blog with tears in my eyes. I know how proud both of your parents have been of you. That essay is wonderful. I really enjoyed the picture as well. I am also very proud to have watched you grow up. I remember being part of a lot of those memories. You have become a wonderful parent and daughter. Although your mother and I have not spent a lot of time together in the last several years, I still feel as close to her as I did then. She is a wonderful person.
    It is so strange that we just became friends on FB and you have posted about the weight issue. I am struggling with the same issue and just recently someone told me about the book you mentioned. I have not bought it yet but plan to soon. I will follow your progress and hope and I can make a similiar commitment. However, I need to do it for health reasons as well. I will follow your blog with much interest. Love & prayers, Laura Gae

  4. BEAUTIFUL!

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