Losing a parent changes one’s perspective about life, love, and parenting. I have learned so many life lessons from my late mom, a widow, who spent her life molding and shaping the person I am now.
I got to really understand her and how much she had to go through raising four children as a single mom when I became a mom myself. During the first few weeks of motherhood, when everything would be too overwhelming, when I was forced to operate with less than 2 hours of shut-eye, I would dial her number in the wee hours of the morning and cry then apologise profusely.
I realised how difficult it is to be a mother, I realised how difficult it must have been for her to be a mother of four, and a single mother at that. “Sorry Mama, now I know how difficult it is to be a mom,” I would tell her over the phone while sobbing. She would then try to calm me down and tell me how rewarding this is going to be in the long run. She said all these will pay off when I start hearing my child say I love you Mama, when I start seeing the love in their eyes.
And just when I thought she taught me everything I could learn from her through our conversations, I lost her, and she taught me even more lessons in her death.
Here are just a few of the lessons about life and parenting I learned after losing my Mom
1. Make as many wonderful memories with your children.
This is what it means when people say “our parents will remain in our hearts forever”.
Making happy memories and saving them in your children’s memory banks is the best you can ever can give them. They will hold on to these memories and cherish those times you spent with them long after you’re gone.
2. Try not to raise sheltered children, guide them throughout but allow them to grow enough to be able to stand on their own.
As much as we want to we can’t be with them forever. At some point we would have to let go. And we have to get them ready to face the world’s challenges head on.
Let them experience failures and let them learn from them. Let them develop a thicker skin to face criticism, failures and heartache. Let them toughen up, because we can’t protect them from the harsh realities of the world forever. Someday we will have to trust that we have raised them well with morals that will guide their way, and with enough strength to make it out there without us.
3. Build relationships, build your children’s tribe
How is your kids’ relationships with your relatives? Does your kid know that true value of having a godfather and godmother? That they are not just milking cows your kids visit on Christmas to get money and gifts?
Does your kid know that godparents should be there to be their extended family? Does your kid know your relatives enough to accept that they can trust them?
Build your child’s support system as early as possible. Because when you go, it’s the members of this tribe who will hold your children’s hands and help them navigate through life without you.
4. Teach them life skills. Stop doing things for them .
We would carry them around and feed, bathe , and hug them all day they if we could. But there are two things to think about,one, you are not your child’s slave, and two, someday they will have to do these things on their own.
He might have to move out before college, live by himself when he starts working. And let’s not even talk about the responsibilities he needs to face when he starts his own family. We can’t keep doing things for them, at some point we have to instead teach them.
The world has enough spoiled individuals who feel the world should cater to their every whim already make sure your kid won’t be adding to the world’s entitlement problem.
5. Strengthen their faith
Losing a parent is one of the worst kinds of pain anyone will have to eventually go through. Someday your kids will have to go through this as well.
Have we prepared them for emotional, and mental, challenges of losing a loved one? Of letting go of a dream? Of losing a job?
Do they know who they can run to when they experience their first heart-break, first major failure, or loss?Who will they get their strength from aside from you?
Strengthening their faith will ensure they will have the courage to carry on instead of spiralling out of control when they experience something traumatizing, depressing, or devastating. Who or what will they hold on to when they feel out of control and lost?
*Mommyfied regularly writes parenting pieces for the Saturday issue of the nationally circulated Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.