Better Than a Hallmark Card

wise speech proverbsIt’s amazing how life works sometimes, especially when you’re a parent. You spend years raising your children, teaching them good values, showing them the ropes and hoping they turn out to be productive, happy adults.

Along the way there are moments when you think you’ve completely messed them up and they will end up in therapy blaming you for their pitiful existences. But then, something miraculous happens. It takes you off guard and leaves you speechless. That’s what happened to me this week with my son.

He’s been on his new job for a couple of weeks. During this time, he has learned to balance taking a college class with work. Needless to say, it’s been a challenge for him.

This is not his first job. He’s had summer jobs but those did not compete with other responsibilities. He was able to live his life with no real pressure other than to show up for work and do a good job. Now, he not only has to do a good job at work, but he must also do well in his class.

His routine has been disrupted. He’s been pushed far out of his comfort zone. He’s learning a lot in a short amount of time. Unlike my daughter who thrives on spontaneity and change, my son likes structure and routine. The past few weeks have been anything but.

However, along with these disruptions have come many lessons and insights, not only about himself but others. On one particular evening, as he was eating his dinner after a particularly demanding day, he said, “Mom, I think I understand now what it was like for you when you worked all day and had to come home and take care of us. It must’ve been hard. I know how tired I am and I can just go to bed, but you couldn’t.”

(Yes, those are angels you hear singing!)


I stood in my kitchen dumbfounded and silent. I wanted to bask in this newly-found empathy for his hard-working single mother. I wanted to use those moments to pray that he would not lose this lesson when one day his exhausted wife comes home from her job with a baby in one arm and diaper bags in the other.

I wanted to say something profound but all I could muster was a weak “thank you.” He may never know the joy he brought to my heart in those moments. The joy of being appreciated, understood and validated as a single mom trying to do the best she can for her children. No Hallmark card could’ve said it better.

Interestingly, this was not the only heartwarming moment of the week. As we drove home last night, another unexpected conversation occurred. In short, my son told me that most teenagers do not get along with their parents; some even hate their parents. He went on to say that this is  because the kids resent the parents who won’t let them do the things they want to do. He further clarified this statement by noting that most of the stuff kids want to do is stupid and shouldn’t be allowed to do anyway. (Yay!)

He then proceeded to tell me how lucky I was because I have kids who love me, who want to talk to me and listen to what I have to say. He continued by saying that he likes spending time with me and most kids wouldn’t be caught dead doing so.

(Yes, more angels singing!)

I told my son that I knew how blessed I was. I do have great kids and while there are certainly struggles at times, in comparison to what some parents have to go through, some might say I have it easy. Sure my kids mouth off from time to time, sure they do dumb stuff, but in the big picture and at their core, they’re good people.

They have good friends. They don’t do drugs or drink (both have expressed strongly their desire to avoid both at all costs.) They’re respectful and well-liked/loved by family, friends, etc. They’re funny, creative, insightful, and smart.

But their most important quality is that they are my teachers. I may be under the misguided notion that my purpose is to teach them, but I’d be mistaken. Yes, I teach them the “rules and reg’s” of life, but truly they are here to open my mind to new ways of thinking, of being.

Their words and actions, as of late anyway, have caused me to re-evaluate my semi-traditional ways of thinking. While I may not always agree, I have found myself really listening to them and their ideas on the world, its challenges and potential solutions.

Because when it comes right down to it, it’s their world now, isn’t it? They’re the ones who will inherit the messes and who will have to break with tradition to find new solutions. Lord knows, my generation sure hasn’t done a great job.

But we can fix that by being open to these “millennials” who boggle our minds with their new ways of thinking, their strange habits and ideas. Instead of dismissing them, we need to open our hearts and look past the differences to see that they are simply trying to make the world a better place.

I suspect these two insights by my son won’t change the world at large, but they sure changed mine. I will be forever grateful for his words and that he felt secure enough to communicate them to me.

I guess I am lucky.

Jen’s Gem: Your kids are watching you all the time and learning. Be the best example you can be.

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2011-2024