krikketgirl: (Hello?)
I read in a couple of different places this morning about it being the birthday of Ernest Hemingway. One of those places mentioned that he had committed suicide in 1961, and that other members of his family had also chosen suicide as their exit strategy. I did a little reading and discovered that, according to a few sources, there have been 5 Hemingway suicides in four generations: Hemingway's father, three siblings, and his granddaughter. What a sad legacy!

It started me to thinking about families and their function in terms of showing and explaining what is and is not acceptable behavior. And yes, in the Hemingway family it seems that there have been plenty of mental and emotional issues that drive these tragic choices. But I still think that there is an example here in just how powerful family influences can be.

I know that as a parent, I hope I am broadcasting positive messages about what is acceptable. Reading about the Hemingways today made me stop and consider: what do my actions indicate is a good way to live? What do I emphasize by what I do? What behaviors that I illustrate will help the kids on down the line, and which will be problematic?

Life is hard, and people don't always hew to family influence; but I think it's foolish to ignore the value of intentionally living in ways we tell our kids we would like them to live. I hope the legacy our parenting leaves will be of lasting positive value in terms of how our sons learn to conduct their lives.

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Jan. 8th, 2010 09:43 pm
krikketgirl: (Boys)
The thing about raising kids--and I know I'm only halfway through it, so take what I say with a grain of salt--is that you wonder whether anything you're doing is worth anything. I love my children, but sometimes I think they're driving me mad; at the very least, the whole experience can lead to enormous self doubt.

Before children, I was tall, thin, and as energetic as a small yappy dog (granted, that last may be a bit negative).

After children, I'm shorter by an inch, vaguely potato-shaped, and tired.

Grant that I've always worried, and you'll easily understand that being a mother has opened new vistas of things to worry about. Once that infant was placed in my arms, I no longer had to limit my worrying to imminent occasions: now I can worry about everything from that weird-looking bump on one's neck to the fact that the other seems to be losing more teeth than he had to begin with to whether or not they'll marry suitably and choose spouses that don't make me want to climb walls.

And in between are the countless instructions, encouragements, discouragements, promptings, and reminders.

If I've Told You Once )

And then sometimes, you get to see the hints of the payoff.

Like when your oldest son volunteers to come after school and help, whether it's tutoring or putting away books or helping kindergarteners do arts and crafts.

Or when your youngest son, a good foot shorter than you are, nevertheless won't let you walk across an icy parking lot without his arms around you, saying, "I'll hold onto you, Mom, so that you won't slide and fall, because it's so slippy."

Or when your son wakes up sick in the middle of the night, and his brother wants to help, and you say, "Pray for him, okay?" And he answers that he already did, before he talked to you.

Or you're figuring out how much tithe money and charity money the kids are giving, and one of them gives half of all the money he has in the world, spontaneously.

Or you come home from work and the oldest son says, "You look really tired. Did you have a bad day?" And wraps his 13-year-old arms around you in a big hug.

Sometimes, you think you might have done something right somewhere.

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krikketgirl

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