When you have young children, especially if you have a lot of little ones, you are usually too busy to do much “future thinking.”
By that I mean, your thoughts are much more geared to the here and now — staying on top of the laundry (impossible), getting dinner on the table (often seemingly impossible), and keeping the house in a fairly sanitary state (just don’t invite the health department over).
Your cluttered mind can’t handle thinking of your children as young adults and all that goes along with that.
Trying to picture little Billy or Emma paying bills, grocery shopping or cleaning their own toilet isn’t a priority when you’re changing diapers and running children to endless activities.
When raising children, we do the best we can. We try to give our children as much as we can. And usually that’s more than it probably should be, though we won’t know that for sure until looking back or when the teenage years arrive.
We also try to teach our children things that matter to us — our religious beliefs, morals, values, etc.
Most of us try to be a role model for such things as honesty, integrity and the like. We also try to use “teachable moments” — even though that saying is so cliché it drives me crazy — to help our children learn from our own mistakes, as well as their own.
I suppose we don’t really have time to ask ourselves if they’re really listening to what we try to teach them. Again, when raising children, you have to live in the moment.
As many of you know, Paul and I are close to being empty nesters. We have just one high school-aged son at home and three young adult children out of the nest and busy with their lives.
The other day I was on the phone with our oldest daughter and she asked if I had read her younger sister’s blog. I admitted I didn’t even know she had one.
Of course, before I was off the phone, I was typing on my computer to find it. Here is one of her entries and, yes, I did get her permission to share:
“I remember going to the grocery store one day with my mom when I was younger. While in line at the checkout, we observed an older woman being extremely rude to a cashier. The woman was arguing about the price of a product and proceeded to take it out on an innocent cashier — who happened to have blue hair and several facial piercings. The pretentious woman made a scene, asking for ‘someone of higher authority.’
“After the drama, when it was our turn to check out, my mom sympathized with the sweet, blue-haired girl, who kept her composure throughout the event, and also thanked us for waiting. Maybe you have never worked a cashier job [where many customers treat you like dirt], but speaking from experience, blue-hair had some serious class. I give mad props to any cashier who can resist the urge to snap at pretentious customers. (Just because I work in food service does not mean I do not know how to count past 10!!!)
“On our way to the car, my mom told me something I still live by today. ‘Sweetie, no matter what, treat everyone with love and respect. No matter what they look like or how they treat you. Because you just don’t know who they are or what they’ve been through. That girl could have been a millionaire or an angel from heaven.’
“Most of us are guilty of sometimes judging people that do not deserve it. If you live or grew up in a wealthy, predominantly single-raced community like me, it’s easy to see someone and assume you know everything about him or her. Living this way can absolutely determine your quality of character and life. My mom is probably one of the least judgmental people I have ever known. It is no coincidence that she has also met some of the most inspiring people — often times while in line at the grocery store or in the doctor’s office.
“I challenge you to be mindful of your thoughts of others. When walking in a store, what is your initial thought of someone, and why? What made you think that way about them? Was it your parents, the media, people at school? Imagine what great people you might meet if you’d just give everyone a chance. So, smile at everyone, be positive, and for Pete’s sake, realize that cashiers are people, too!”
After crying my eyes out, I called my sweet and mature 19-year-old and thanked her for the best Mother’s Day gift. After all, what more do we all want than to know our children actually do listen and remember and take away those all important life lessons we strive to teach them.
God bless all you young moms. I promise there is a light at the end of the sometimes dark tunnel.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.