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On the Side - May 2016

Every Day is Important
By Sharon Chatwell

By the time you read this, it will be graduation week for our daughter, Anna. That’s right! “The Littlest Chatwell” is graduating from college!

To those who know me personally, that may make you feel old. Don’t worry. It makes everyone who knows me feel old… Even me.

With three older brothers, Anna has always been the poster child for youth in our family. Everyone always expects her to be the youngest, the littlest, and the baby at home. But now even that is changing. Within the next two months, God willing, there will be a new grandchild in our family, and Anna will take on her new role of adulthood along with the newfound title of Aunt.

My mom used to say that, for parents, graduation day is sort of like “Payday.” The idea being that as a parent you do everything you can for your child, going along for what seems like forever, and then all of a sudden there is this BIG day when something really special happens. You see your child graduate and move on to the next step in life: Payday.

Of course, mom would also say, “Every day is important.”

Graduations are fun, birthdays are great, vacations and sleepovers and other special events are memorable, but every day is important. Children need us to be there for them, to love them, to encourage them, and to be proud of them every single day.

Similarly, the rewards of being a parent aren’t all received on any one particular day or the other. It’s not just on wedding days, anniversaries, or birthdays that we get some form of payback. Actually, it’s most days.

All of our children are adults now (yes, even Anna) and it’s funny to hear them get together and talk about the “good old days” (You know, back when they were young.) They have vivid memories of stuff that I have no recollection of whatsoever.

As a parent, you always think that your kids are going to remember some big event or some special effort you made. But, amazingly, the things they remember most clearly and cherish the most seem to have no relation to these at all.

They remember a talk you had with them in the kitchen when you were cooking one night. They remember catching a 3-inch fish when they were 5 years old. They remember playing in the leaves one autumn day. They remember you saying that you were proud of their efforts at school.

You, of course, do not remember ANY of these things. You just realize that you did them. Or at least you think that you did. More and more I hear my kids telling an old story and I think, “I don’t remember saying that, but it sounds like me.”

I’m not sure why I’m telling you this. I think it’s because I want you to know something. Many of you are young married women with very young children. You worry about what you are doing. You read books on parenting and raising children and you talk to each other at Bible Study, at church and on the playground. (I know that my friends and I did; often while our husbands were off fulfilling the crushing demands of residency or medical practice in general.)

You sit at your favorite restaurant with half-eaten chicken nuggets scattered across the table, watching your kids play on the climber, while you and your friends put your heads together and try to figure out how best to raise your children. You ask yourself things like “What is going to make the most difference in their lives?”

Good for you. Really. This kind of interaction helps and your heart is in the right place. But I have news for you. The best thing you can do for your children is just to be there: Calmly going through your day, with them along for the ride.

The wisest advice you’re going to find for raising your children is in the Bible; particularly in these verses from Deuteronomy 11:18-20 “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds… Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up… so that your days and the days of your children may be many…”

Your children will learn from you as you go along the way together. Learn about God, share your faith with them, and try to apply God’s Word to your life every day.

After all, every day is important.

Sharon is a physician’s spouse and the mother of 4 young adults. She looks back with joy and fondness over all of their childhoods, and looks forward to trying out her Ninja-level grandmother skills very soon.

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