I’ve found several sources of inspiration for this column since I started writing it in 2013. Last week, when I picked up a copy of Oprah Winfrey’s recent book, “What I know for Sure,” I soon realized it would offer profound inspiration for my final column here.
Oprah may not be a parent, but she’s clearly an expert on human connections. Her professional career is one I respect and admire, but her reflective perspectives on life and her spiritual awakenings have an even more powerful pull. Her book is simple. She writes about the little things, moments in which she has complete clarity. They are the times when she has true happiness, whether drinking her spicy cup of chai tea in the afternoon to walking her dogs, unleashed, in the woods.
Unlike her book, parenting is not simple. However, we can all recognize similar, smaller splinters within what may feel like a vast landscape, where we find absolute clearness and understanding. These are the sweet spots of parenting.
Truthfully, I never set out to write this column to be a parenting prognosticator. I don’t subscribe to a “this way is better than that way” vision that attracts many well-meaning parents to one book, blog or parenting workshop. My goals were to let other parents know that it’s ok to be confused, scared, overwhelmed or even sad when on this journey. We live in a time where always having an answer is expected, although unreasonable. Children aren’t born with guidebooks, and even with the best of intentions in life, many of us find ourselves struggling. Each parent, child and family is unique. With those differences among us, so, too, are the accompanying trials we face. All the while, I’ve found a lot of common ground among parents, especially the love we have for our children.
With Oprah as my inspiration, here are ten things I know for sure as a parent:
- I’ll always recall the joy of holding an infant in the warm space between my neck and shoulder.
- Seeing the world through a child’s eyes often makes more sense than the adult view.
- I’ll do absolutely anything to protect my children.
- Seeing any child ill, harmed or suffering tears out a tiny piece of my heart.
- I’ll do my best to make my children’s lives better than mine was as a child.
- Hearing my children’s laughter is probably the best sound on the planet.
- Children should be corrected but never humiliated.
- I’ll never take for granted my children’s good health.
- Messes don’t last, but happy memories will linger forever.
- Love is the most important gift I can ever give my children.
So when your parenting efforts may appear unnoticed, the way you make your children feel is not. Teach them about the world. Do your best to understand their perspective. Listen intently, and love unconditionally. Expect them to do well, but understand they need guidance. Know that they and you will make mistakes, but do your best to remember the importance of love, compassion and understanding. These things I know for sure.
Motherhood has been the most challenging and rewarding job I’ve ever had. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me, as I’ve grown in wisdom and experience as a parent. I value deeply the opportunity I’ve had to relate my experiences—from the practical to the pitiable. What I know for sure is that raising children requires a lot from parents. While many books offer wonderful foundations of advice to help us along the way, don’t forget to trust your inner voice.
Now it’s time for me to move on from this column to devote more time to my radio show and other projects. You can continue to follow me on my web site, Perspective on Parenting, on social media and on WCHE1520.com. Happy parenting!