The title of this post comes from a verse stitched in crewel by a dear loved one years ago. It was given to me when my daughter Tara was little. Tara is now the mother of our three granddaughters; Mary Grace, who turned fourteen this week, twelve-year-old Elsie, and six-year-old Virginia. I am amazed at how the years have passed so quickly. Time and years that will never return. Memories that are forever embedded in my heart. Memories and Traditions that will live on longer than we will.
As I think about this, I am aware that children are our most precious gift, and that children who are respectful, caring, and generous become so in large part because of present, consistent, and loving parenting. That is not always the role modeling that children receive, unfortunately. Children who are not raised in a good and nurturing environment can certainly grow into good children and become responsible adults, but it is definitely harder. And it is not a “given” that children raised with good parenting will become good adults. There are variables other than parenting that affect how children grow and the young people and adults that they become. But I think the research reflects that of all influences, the influence of our parents (and to a lesser degree, in the absence of parents, our parental figures) have the greatest impact on us.
Please forgive me for using examples of my grandchildren and their parents in this discussion. They are certainly not perfect. But none of us are. We are all a work in progress, and the facts of how we turn out and who we become are not known until much later in our lives. But there are steps along the way that are an indication of our future journey.
Our twelve-year-old granddaughter, Elsie, was confirmed in her church, the United Methodist Church, this past Sunday. Mary Grace was confirmed in the same church two years ago at the same age. Although their parents, Tara and Stephen, were both raised in the Baptist faith, they have been faithful members of both the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, finding those a better fit for them as they have lived in different areas. They are not just members of their churches, they are engaged and involved. The children see faith in action. Although confirmation is no guarantee that the girls will be faithful to any organized religion, they are receiving a religious foundation from which to make their own decisions as adults.
The girls are surrounded by loving family other than their parents. Their grandparents were present for Elsie’s twelfth birthday in February, and her confirmation this week. This required travel of six to seven hours. While given the distance and other obligations, it is not always possible to be with them for every event. But the extended family comes together often, including the sixty-four who are present for Thanksgiving each year!
Loving discipline is another variable. While this Nana is not a very good disciplinarian, the girls’ parents are! I have the “loving” part down pat, it is just the “discipline” part that I struggle with!
Memories and Traditions bind us together, whether it is our annual ski trip to Colorado, our Thanksgiving tradition, or the Kinney reunions with Rook tournaments. Our family believes in coming together as often as possible, to create memories and traditions that last. We cook together, travel together, and play together.
A few comments about generosity. Mary Grace received some very special gifts for her birthday, and two of those were from her sisters. Elsie spent quite a bit of time shopping for her. She bought her a plaque with a wonderful saying about what a great sister she is. She also bought her several other things, including her favorite candy bar. In addition, she got up at 6am and baked her blueberry muffins for her birthday breakfast. For two sisters who don’t always show their closeness, all of this was indeed special.
Virginia drew Mary Grace a special drawing on her birthday card. She sealed the card, then all of a sudden decided she had to reopen it! She put a twenty dollar bill out of her wallet in the card. For Mary Grace’s birthday breakfast, Virginia made a fruit salad. Now, for a six-year-old, these are indeed examples of generosity and love.
My heart is full of love, gratitude, and awe. Love for these grandchildren and their parents. Gratitude that they are healthy in body and mind and growing up in a loving environment. Awe that we have the privilege to be a part of all of this.
May our example to them be as good as theirs to us.