Do you ever get sick of wiping butts? I am just asking to make sure that I am not alone in this feeling of ass-overwhelming, and the concern that my children may never in fact be able to, well, wipe their own butts. I am sure that at some point my mother thought the same thing and I am here to tell you, that at age 40 I do pretty well myself. The reason I brought this up as we launch our new BLOG is that it seems to me to be the perfect analogy to motherhood as a whole. Not to reduce our lives and rear ends and poop, but here is my thinking- we are forever going to be cleaning up after our children based on what we put into them. And if you take that a step further, the world is going to be cleaning up after our children based on what we put into them. Good nourishing stuff or crap – it all comes out, and the bottom line is this, the attitudes we help form and grow in our kids are the ones that will influence an entire generation and ultimately the world. We all know that eventually my kids and yours will be able to manage themselves in the bathroom and elsewhere, but how well they are equip to do anything is wholly up to us.
My son attends a really nice school and at the end of this year his first grade teacher showed a slide show set to music of the year and his class. After the show ended I looked over at my husband who was standing next to another father and they both had tears streaming down their cheeks. I was proud of my son and of his father. Following the slide show they had an awards ceremony. Children received awards for outstanding academic achievement, perfect attendance, athletic excellence, etc. When the teacher began to read from my son’s certificate my heart swelled. He was given the award for Honesty, for demanding it both from himself and from his peers. Now, for obvious reasons I was proud of my son, but I was also so very proud of his teacher for placing such a high value on something that is not measured in terms of grade or execution. It is an intangible quality that IS my son. He, like his father, simply does not lie and he really has no tolerance for dishonesty in others. What my husband had put in to him, inadvertently, had come out and in all the right ways and in all the right places.
Neither my husband nor I had ever sat down and said to him “don’t lie and always be honest” and expected that to be all that was required to help build a strong affection for truth. It was part of what we feed him every day. We are NOT perfect parents and I would hope to never convey that. We make mistakes and screw up on a daily basis, but it was such a clear and wonderful illustration of this whole endeavor called parenting. It is subtle and elusive but it is constant – the digestion of information and values moves like any other process and the continual requirement for nourishment must be met by sound ideas and clear thinking from us.
Feed your kids what you want them to put out. Sometimes this is not what you put in front of them but rather what you mix in. I am sure that wiping butts will become a memory and at some point I may even miss that innocence of it and dependence on me, but I am sure that I will always be amazed and (sometimes horrified) by what comes out of them!