Friday, September 20, 2013
Yesterday I put on the Facebook Page a post by Single Dad Laughing with 3 questions he asked more than 200 bereaved parents. I thought the responses would be meaningful to all parents.
Oh, you didn't know An Inch of Gray had a Facebook page? Just click on that picture of me over there on the right and "Like" it if you feel so inclined. Thanks!
Anyway, I got a message last night from Lori asking me how I would answer the three questions, and that's what I've been thinking about today. A lot. I have a feeling my answers will be a little longer than the ones on the Single Dad Laughing post.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN AS A PARENT:
Hmm. I wish I had understood that while I was trying to make Jack's life "easier" by having him conform to other people's standards, I was most likely just letting my own insecurities and pride keep me from enjoying Jack exactly as God made him.
Truthfully, I was probably just trying to make things easier on ME not him. I knew he was a thoughtful, incredible kid, but I sometimes wished he were more rough and tumble, less sensitive, less shy, and more happy go lucky.
This doesn't mean I regret any of our heart to hearts, even the ones with tears, or the way I helped equip him to learn how to make friends, handle his emotions, and cope with challenges, but I just wish I had realized, far earlier than I did, that God did not give me Jack so I could fix him or change him. He gave me Jack to love and to fight for.
I don't regret being structured, because I know that made him feel safe and loved, so you won't hear me say, "Oh I wish we had had milkshakes and Coke for dinner every night, or not had a bedtime, or just let him watch whatever was on TV" -- knowing now that the days we had together were numbered.
But I do wish I had a crystal clear vision of what the little things were versus the big things. And I probably would have bought him a couple more Cokes.
I wish I had known not to let others guilt me or intimidate me into distrusting my instincts as a mom.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD DONE DIFFERENTLY AS A PARENT:
Well, you KNOW I wish I hadn't encouraged my kids to go out and play in the rain that balmy afternoon. Not that seizing the moment and playing in the rain is a bad thing in itself. In fact, it is moments like those that form some of the most blessed and meaningful memories of our family's past. Moments of beauty, laughter and spontaneity. Running through a sprinkler with your clothes on because you are too lazy to change, chasing after the bell of an ice cream truck as it pulls away from the curb, finding unexpected delight in an otherwise ordinary day.
However, I wish I could have felt the axis of the earth shift ever so slightly, to know this was NOT an ordinary day. I wish I somehow had been able to put together the puzzle pieces of the strange feelings and the sense of foreboding that I had the weeks before the accident to make me just say, "NO. We're staying inside."
I wish I had used our drive home from school that afternoon for a teachable moment about flash floods and the mighty power of water. I thought about it, but I didn't want to scare the kids.
I regret being well-behaved. I think my desire to be a well-behaved people pleaser who doesn't make a scene contributed to my giving up almost immediately the night of the accident and not doing more to find Jack, even though I knew in my soul where he was.
WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL YOU MADE SURE TO DO AS A PARENT:
Well, I know that Jack knew I loved him. I showed him this in the words I spoke every single day: "I love you. I love the way God made you. I'm so proud to be your mom" and in my actions most days.
I am so glad I took the time to snuggle and talk with him at night. I am thankful that I let the kids climb on the couch, dance on the coffee table, and jump on the bed when they were little.
I am grateful I was able to introduce him to the God who made him and who loves him even more than I do. I am thankful that I never let the kids think that the most important things in life were things. I am thankful I wasn't too busy. I am thankful I encouraged his passions. And I am thankful I was able to help foster a loving relationship between Jack and his sister Margaret, even though it hurts so much not to have them together now.
So, those are my things.