I remember hearing a quote from Phylicia Rashad a long time ago (note this is paraphrased based on my memory). She was expressing her gratitude that by being a parent she had been granted a front row seat to the development of this little life, and how blessed she felt. I had never thought about parenthood in quite that way before.
At the time I was a very young mother, and although thrilled by being a mother, did have my good and bad days as we all do. I knew I had a very important job; I was to protect and care for this life, teach it values and impart whatever wisdom I could to it. I did not, however, recognize all that it would provide me. This viewpoint of being gifted with the opportunity to watch a little being learn and create themselves was a new one and something I’ve kept with me throughout the years.
At this time, my children are both now grown and in their 20s (well, my son turns 20 this year). I have tried to enjoy and appreciate each stage of their lives, from the discoveries of basic everyday items, to things that were new to them that directly affected them in unexpected ways, to their developing opinions about the world around them.
I do have moments when I look back and think, I was so busy just trying to get through day-to-day I missed some very important moments or rushed the children through those as we did not have time to discover the ant on the sidewalk because the grocery store was closing. How many more moments might I have missed without those wise words? Being a young single mother struggling through those early days, I can imagine many more would have been overlooked; I am immensely grateful for receiving those words of wisdom when I did.
At times when I disagree with my children now, I still hear those words from Phylicia and am learning to reframe my thoughts to be able to recognize, it is my honor to be in this front-row seat. To hear the actual theory that goes behind the decision or comment is a gift regardless of my opinion. To be able to listen, with immense pride, to the exciting and important issues my children have chosen to give their time and energy to is an incredible opportunity.
The greatest joy in this journey of parenting for me is to see who children become. Which lessons had the most impact on their future? What did they absorb from what I did and not what I said? How much are they like me, and how much are they different from me?
I have never received such a gift as that of a front-row seat in the development of a child. It is a gift I will cherish forever, and some day hope to have the opportunity to have a second-row seat in the next generation.