The other day I was able to pick my son up early from daycare, after getting him strapped in I jumped in the car and started pulling away…a million things were racing through my mind (what was I going to make for dinner, do I have everything packed for our upcoming out of town trip and the list goes on). Then I saw it…an older age group of kids were outside and I couldn’t help but notice they were all like little masterminds, working hard and focusing on what they were building or playing with and most importantly, they were learning. Lyrics from Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” instantly ran through my head…”I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.” One of my biggest fears is that I will not be able to raise my son into a decent man in today’s society. Everywhere you turn, there’s a negative news story about racism or terrorism. It scares me to death that my sweet, innocent boy will be exposed to pain and disappointment in life and I have made these vows to do what I can to help him along the way.
I promise to show him love
I plan to show him how to love and accept love from others. I’ve witnessed firsthand the damaging effects of abandoning children and not teaching them how valuable their life is and it breaks my heart. My hope is that by showing him how much I cherish him, he will learn how to appreciate others differences, respect others opinions and treat his elders, future wife, friends, etc. with understanding and admiration.
I promise to nurture his creativity
I want him to know that it is ok to be a kid. I was walking to my car in the Walmart parking lot a few months ago and I overheard a father screaming at his kids to “act like adults” (complete with a few choice words that left me with my mouth just hanging open). It killed me to see the look on their faces. They weren’t adults, they were kids and they were having fun like kids should be doing at that age. I want my son to use every possible part of his imagination and to experience every stage of life that he encounters. Most of all, I just want him to have fun and be able to look back on his childhood with the most amazing memories.
I promise to never turn down a cuddle
I want to make sure my son knows I am always here to comfort him. There will come a day where he will no longer need me to hold him or rock him to sleep but just as my favorite book says “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”
I promise to teach him faith
Growing up in a Christian home, I believe that a strong faith in God is an amazing foundation to raise a child on. Perhaps one day he will come to me and tell me that he has decided to follow a different religion, or that his beliefs no longer mirror my own, and as hard as that will be for me, I hope that I will have at least taught him to believe in something bigger than himself and I hope that raising him in faith will help to teach him strong morals, values and self-worth.
I promise to show him God’s beauty
I want to teach him how to appreciate the good in the world. When I drive home from work, I think about how many people are driving at the same time. I start to wonder if they are also noticing the raw beauty of the sunset or the breathtaking view of the mountains surrounding us, or if they take the time to smile at the baby deer in a nearby field. We seem to get so caught up in our busy schedules (our eyes glued to our smart phones, rushing home to turn on the TV) that we miss out on the God-given beauty of the world.
I promise to let him make mistakes
I want him to make decisions and mistakes so he can learn to be independent. As much as I want to, I know I won’t be able to shelter him from all of the negative things in life but I am hoping I will at least be able to teach him how to get back on his feet when he’s knocked down.
I promise to listen
Regardless of if he is 3 telling me about this cool bug he just saw outside or 23, asking my advice on his new girlfriend, I want him to know I am always here to listen. I want to make sure he understands that every thought and question he has is important. Sure, there will be days that I am too busy and listening to 21 questions is going make me want to pull my hair out but the thought of him ever feeling like he is not my number 1 priority is one I can’t even handle.
I promise to trust him
Growing up, I was given a lot of freedom. My parents did all of the above and at the end of the day I was trusted to go out into the world and make my own decisions. I never had a curfew but was always home early, I never skipped class because I would feel too guilty and I never wanted to disappoint my parents. Having their trust really made me appreciate them. They put a lot of work into raising my sister and I to be honest, respectful humans and I pray every day that I will be able to do the same for my son. Yes, I made PLENTY (and that is a huuuggee plenty) of mistakes along the way but they were always there to help me back up. I want to make sure he learns that honesty truly is the best policy and that the truth will always come out in the end so it is better to face it in the beginning.
I promise to teach him to lead
It is so easy for kids to get caught up in the wrong crowd and end up down a destructive path. Even if I do everything right (which is impossible) I know that there is still a possibility he will choose the wrong road. I want to make sure he knows that it is ok to stand up for his own beliefs, even if no other kids agree. I want him set an example and learn to be the leader. I want him to be strong-minded but also open-minded, compassionate, and understanding of others opinions.
I was watching Criminal Minds the other day and the closing quote was from Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I could go on for days of all that I hope to instill in my son and I know for a fact that some of these promises will be broken along the way; but just as he is growing and learning every day, I am growing and learning how to be a mom at the same time. There will be days we won’t get along (I am already trying to prepare myself for when he tells me he hates me) and I know we won’t always see eye-to-eye but I vow to do everything I can to raise him into a strong, independent and wholesome man. And so I leave you with a verse from my new favorite song by Keith Urban “Raise ’em up tall and strong, raise ’em up right from wrong, raise ’em up so damn high they can hear God singing along.”