Thursday, June 27, 2013

Once a parent, always a parent

Psalm 27:10 (NIV)

Though my father and mother forsake me,
   the Lord will receive me.
My brother moved out of his apartment today. It was supposed to actually happen the last two days, but various circumstances intervened. It also was supposed to require my dad to take one minivan trip into the city, not two. Again, circumstances. Since we work from my parents’ house, and that’s where my brother is moving for the short term, this activity has loomed large over the week and especially today.

Things like this tend to remind me my children will always be my children, even when they’re not living under my roof. And when I was nine, this whole working for my parents at a desk in the basement thing would have been utterly inconceivable to all parties involved. But here we are, and who knows what Jack’s world may look like in another 24 years.

At one point I wondered aloud if my folks would trade the stresses of this week for a few more summer days of having all three of us kids at home, say ages nine and three, or perhaps a little older when I’m sure each day was a nonstop quest to get us to stop fighting with each other. We’re not quite to the point of incessant sibling rivalry at our house, but even happy play can get to be too much.

It’s not quite forsaking in the Biblical sense, but there have been plenty of times the past two summers when we’ve banished the children to the outdoors. The most recent was just last weekend. The living room is uncharacteristically picked up, which apparently is an invitation for a three-way wrestling match involving the couch. Roughhousing is kind of a fact of life with these boys, but I’d prefer they do so in the basement. After they ignored several warnings, they were given one final chance to chill out or be subjected involuntarily to good old Vitamin D.

If I’m being particularly proactive, I will subtly encourage outdoor play by setting up the bounce house in the front yard, or simply puttering around the driveway until curiosity gets the best of at least one of them. If I’m rather involved in a personal project, I tend to just holler “Stop it!” every few minutes until I reach my limit, then dump kids in the garage and lock the door. It’s not my finest parenting, but I can manage it without insults, obscenities or violence. And our front yard is a perfectly nice place to play, especially when they choose to go there on their own. Sometimes they just need some, well, encouragement.

As I wrote just the other day, it won’t be long before inside wrestling matches are just a distant memory and our struggles are more about who borrows which car, whether or not everyone can come home for the same weekend in the summer and if any kid is smart enough to call their mother on her birthday. But those are for then and this is for now, and I’m perfectly content with being in this particular present. And I am, once again, abundantly grateful for the love my parents showed us as children and the way those relationships evolved as we grew into adulthood and, in my case, into being a parent myself.

One of the reasons I want to be the best parent possible is because I grew up with such outstanding examples. They are some might big shoes to fill, but I’m doing my best to try. And that attempt is made all the easier with the support of my parents and Kristie’s parents and the continued love they show for us and their grandchildren. I know too many people who are not nearly as lucky in this regard. I hope the people who matter to me know I will never take them for granted.

A prayer for June 27:

Lord, thank you for good parents. Not just mine, but for anyone who puts in the time and effort it takes to raise kids the right way. I now have a taste of how difficult it can be to accept this responsibility, but you have blessed me with role models to emulate. You have shown me through my own life the benefits of parents who never give up, who put their kids first. I ask you for the strength to set a good example for my own children and pray they will see your work in my life and theirs. Amen.

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