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For the Mom Who is Taken For Granted (And the One Who Wishes She Was)

My son had his winter band concert last week. The night before he asked who was coming. I told him I’d be there.

“But you’re always there, who else is coming?”

My kids are the lucky ones who almost always have an entourage cheering them on through concerts, plays, awards shows, ball games, recitals and any number of other performances. If an event calls for an audience, my kids’ cheering section shows up.

As a kid myself I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to have parents who showed up for me. They’ve eaten many a rubber-chicken dinner during academic awards programs and band nights. They endured countless ballgames to see a three- or four-minute half-time show. They froze their fingers and toes through parades filled with other schools’ bands and floats for businesses they’d never heard of.

I just knew they would show up. Even as an adult I have confidence in my parents’ support of whatever I launch myself into next.

All the books written for new parents enforce the importance of responding to an infant’s cries because it builds a bond between parent and child and teaches the child they can trust you to show up and meet their needs.

But don’t confuse your child trusting you will show up with your child feeling entitled to you doing things for them. While I will show up for my kid’s band concert, I will not be late to a meeting to go back to the house and pick up the instrument he forgot. While I will sit in a conference with their teacher about behavior or grades, I will not ask, much less insist, that the teacher be more lenient or change a grade.

I think we’ve confused the two sometimes.

My kids may take for granted that I’ll show up, bu I do not take that privilege for granted at all. Many loving parents can’t take off work for every program and many work two jobs to ensure their child has food to eat. Something I haven’t done a very good job of is finding the kids whose parents just can’t be there for whatever reason and stepping up for them. It’s something I need to do, something we all need to do.

Imagine how much more supported single parents would feel if people in the church asked if their child had an upcoming Christmas or end of the year program the parent couldn’t make. To know your child has an avid supporter in their corner when you can’t be there is an amazing gift. My parents’ have been those people for our kids and I’ve witnessed many grandparents on field trips and school programs.

A few years ago we did a Bible study about parenting and one session encouraged us to water someone else’s garden, meaning find a child not in your family and encourage them, speak to them, show interest in their lives. My kids have some great folks in our church who go out of their way to speak to them and encourage them.

It doesn’t have to stop at church. My kids’ friends have run up to me at ballgames and take time from playing at our house to tell me what’s going on in their lives. While I may not show up to their events, I’ve tried my best to demonstrate to them that I care about them and I’m one more trustworthy adult in their lives.

Maybe that’s my goal for 2019. To find the kid who needs a supporter to show up when a parent can’t and help another mom fill the gap.

Afterall every child should have that person in their life that they say “You’re always there who else is coming”.

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