It’s that Mother’s Day time of year again and I’ll probably be pampered by one or other of my wonderful children, even though they’re living independently now after all those years home educating.
However, as well they know, the commercial, profiteering and pollutive bandwagon that Mother’s Day has become quite revolts me (imported cellophane-wrapped, hothouse flowers and plastic flower pots being up there with other environmentally damaging stuff, for one)
Add to this the fact that all this buying of single-use tat for mums, can also mask the whole point of Mother’s Day; to celebrate the enormous importance of mothers.
Okay, we know mothers are important, but it often lies buried under the buying, and is seldom ever spelt out in words. When there are written words to describe that importance, you can repeat it, and learn and teach others why mums everywhere need our respect. (Dads too). Which is why I wanted to reiterate here something I’ve said before: the most valuable thing that you will ever do is parent your children.
So how come?
Because it’s not just your children who are affected by your parenting, or your own family life. It’s about something much bigger than that. And in order to understand that you have to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Think about ripples. When you chuck a stone in water the stone doesn’t only affect the place where it hits the surface, its impact sends ripples out through the whole pool. Right to the edges even, right to places it was nowhere near and never touched.
Your parenting is like that. Because your children are affected by your parenting more than they are affected by anything else in their lives. And that parenting, and the way your children are, will be sending ripples out through society just like the pool.
Your children affect the children they meet, the communities they join, the work they do as they grow, the families of their own that they may one day create. And it will not only be their own little communities they affect, for as those communities interact they affect others beyond their own ripples in their own pool and affect societies to come. And your children do not only affect this planet as it is now, their actions affect the future of the planet too.
These small babies of yours, toddlers, children, and so on, and the way in which you are bringing them up actually affects everybody. That’s how the bigger picture looks. And that’s why the most valuable thing that you ever do is to parent your children. Even more astounding is the fact that your baby may become the next Einstein, Prime Minister, David Attenborough, or the person who discovers the cure for cancer, or develops solutions to our changing world and the challenges it faces. Equally important are the less heralded jobs that all need doing like caring or teaching or nursing or entertaining or emptying our bins. The way you raise your baby affects all this.
And that’s why mums are, why parenting is (dads too), so, SO important.
It’s also why it is so important that we value it and celebrate it. That we value it enough to give it our time, thought and attention, we value it enough to prioritise our parenting duties, value it enough to make sure we do it well.
Of course, the next big question is; how do we do it well?
To do anything well, whatever it is, requires; focus, energy, being engaged, commitment, putting ourselves out, thought.
It also involves; research, consideration, decision making, sometimes sacrifice of other things we were formerly engaged in.
And changes to; ourselves, the way we behave, the way we think, our way of living.
The biggest requirement is respect:
Respecting our parenting enough to devote energy and commitment to it, be responsible about it.
Respecting ourselves enough to do this job to the best of our abilities, smarten up our act a bit, think through our morals, practices, behaviours, habits and language.
Respecting our children enough to value time spent with them, listening to them, being involved with their doings, guiding, educating them (and that happens as much through our interaction with them as anything else), cherishing them and nurturing them. Caring.
Now this may all sound too much of a demand on our time and energy and too much for us to aspire to or achieve. But it isn’t. For it is so, so simple.
It is simply achievable by just being a good, caring person. A good caring person who is there.
Being a good caring person you will pass that goodness and care onto your child. They will then understand what goodness and care is all about. And they will in turn send ripples of goodness and care out into the world, helping make it a good place to be. And that’s simply because of your parenting.
That’s the effect your parenting has. It has an effect far beyond you and your children. It has an effect throughout the world. That’s why it’s so important.
It is the most valuable thing that you could ever do. Mum or dad, that’s the value of you. Worth celebrating I’d say!