Emotional Paychecks From My Children
As a mother, my job does not come with a paycheck at the end of the week. There are no evaluations or financial bonuses based on performance. There are no sick days, vacation days and no insurance or retirement plans. And I will not know how well I really did, as a mother, until my 80th birthday sitting in a chair at a celebration looking back at my life and looking ahead at the view.
My job does not allow me to know how I am doing in regard to many years and more months from now. I have to lay my head down every night and wonder if I did the very best I could have for that day. For each sunset and sunrise, my days to influence my children lessen and the day the house will be too clean and too quiet quickly approaches.
Fortunately, I am able to recognize movement in life that is elegant and a gift in terms of feeling as though the path I am on is not far off course. I call these moments emotional paychecks. I accept them because they are messages to me that my children are growing to be good people with good morals and have a formidable strength to make decisions that are net positive. Here are a few of my emotional paychecks:
Cove is in college and calls me every day just to say hi and see how everyone is.
Rainy has some issues that she struggles with but I see her work very hard at changing those things because she wants to do the right thing and show me and prove to herself that she can.
Summer has not felt well lately and all of the children make sure she is settled before they go to sleep.
Julian is nine and he made me take a picture of a carline sign that said “continue to move forward.” He then sent it to his brother in college who had a difficult couple of days.
Last week Cove called his little brother from college. He called to tell Julian who is in fourth grade that he also had test anxiety and gave him a way to embrace it and to overcome it.
Dylan once told me that if he was ever tempted to not make good choices, he would hear my voice and he could never do something that he knows would not be good for him because of it. Rocky has told me the same thing and Summer, as well.
Summer is currently doing a documentary on the homeless, not for school but just so she has a better understanding of people and life circumstances.
They have each come home, on separate occasions, and told me that I was their inspiration in a writing prompt and they were proud of their message.
I have seen every one of my children take care of each other with a dedication that would make anyone pause.
I find these emotional paychecks to be irreplaceable and I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for each one of them and thankfulness for anyone and anything that contributed to these things that I have seen them do.
However, as much as I hold onto these moments, I always keep my eyes open for the signs that indicate changes may be needed. I do not allow myself to sit in a cozy bed of arrogance because that will be the day I need to pay attention. My job is to be there for them in any way that I can to support them and help them grow. I have eighteen years to do this for each of them. After that, society will take over full time and I want them to know who they are and have a solid foundation that helps them keep their balance when life tries to knock them over.
As of right now, I can only base the affects of parenting and any other influences on their behavior with how they interact with each other, their peers and in school. So far, it seems to be going well but I truly will not know until I am about eighty years old looking back and also watching them navigate their lives.
In the meantime, I pay attention to my path and look for better ways so I do not become complacent. One time, I asked Cove, who was ten at the time, if he would do anything different as a parent based on his own upbringing up to that point. He told me that he would give his children chocolate whenever they wanted it, including at bedtime. Since I take parenting seriously and I appreciate my children’s input, I put a lot of thought into it and this is exactly what I said, “Oh, don’t worry about that Cove, I promise you, as the grandmother to your children, I will give them all the chocolate they want, even if it is bedtime.”
Why would I give my grandchildren chocolate? Let’s just call it a bonus.