Do you ever get frustrated with the people who say,”Enjoy your child while they are young. Time goes by so fast.” You smile and accept the advice hoping that the advice is being given with sincerity. When you walk away and your precious little one states they hate you because they got a red sucker at the bank instead of a purple one, you may wonder why time can’t slip by just a little bit faster?
I find my self using this quote on young parents all of the time. I am sure they refer to me as the crazy old lady. When kids are stubborn, I will remind parents that those same skills will find them much success in later years. We want persistence in our adults right? When little ones refuse to go to bed, I laugh and say. Just wait until they are tennagers asking you to pick them up from a movie letting out at midnight?!” I seriously had to set an alarm to pick my kids up from school dances. Who stays up that late on a Friday anyway? My favorite is when parents are struggling with potty training and every older adult in the room states that they had no trouble with potty training. In fact, their children were totally trained by 18 months. Yeah right!
I believe younger parents must leave conversations like those & wonder what is wrong with them? Why is parenting so difficult for them? The reality is, parenting is difficult for everyone. Some of those challenges fade in our memories, so in hindsight, parenting seems a bit easier.
It’s true that our time with our children is limited. Maybe we have 940 Saturdays with them. Those are the days we have to show them what is important in life. Sometimes, parents don’t get that much time.
In the past few years, I have watched a friend help her child battle cancer twice and end up victorious. That is a worthy of celebration. On the flip side, I have seen a neighbor bury her 11 year old son. I watched a community grieve the loss of a 15 year old. I witnessed a coworker go to the funeral of a 3 month old baby. We don’t always get all the time we plan for.
These examples are heartbreaking, tragic, and seemingly pointless. Obviously, nothing good comes from losing a child. From the perspective of the family, I am confident this is true. Pain changes over time as the initial wound scabs, but the family is forever changed. How about the rest of us?
Could we look at these examples and find a little more compassion for our child when they are having a melt down over us buying the wrong cereal? Can we refrain from judgment when our teen is crying over a break up that we know is truly better than maintaining the relationship? Just hold him and let him know you love him. Will we choose to have a bit more patience for our kids when they are learning to get dressed and not jump in to zip that jacket? Maybe. Perhaps this is the only thing we CAN do when facing the tragic loss of a child. It could be our duty for the gift of still having our children with us.
What can we do for those we know that are grieving the loss of a child? Unfortunately, I have had much more experience in this arena than I would choose. I have learned from parents that they still want people to talk about their kids. Tell stories. Especially the good ones. Remember his laugh when we played soccer with him? I loved that. I bet you did too. She was such a great artist. Did you know I still have that picture she drew for me. Would you like to see it?
This will be painful sometimes. Emotions are impossible to predict or control. Overall, parents want to know that you remember too. It helps to know others have some of the pain and that others miss their child. Honor the life of kids no matter how short.
At home, hug your children even if they don’t always like it. Hold them accountable. Teach them responsibility. Celebrate them. One day, they will understand. You were showing them your love for as long as you could.