Parenting is challenging but rewarding part of life

My Aunt Joanne and Uncle Dave produced five wonderful children. Full of life, the children were explorers and adventurers, filled with faith and devotion to family. The adventurous character trait emerged in their teen years, often leading them to be out late on weekends.

A nurse with odd shifts, my Aunt Joanne found a way to track their return home. She would fall asleep in one of the children’s empty beds, when they arrived home they would need to wake her up so they could sleep in their bed. She would then move to the next empty child’s bed and continued the process until she arrived in her own bed with her husband where she could sleep peacefully knowing all of her children were home safely. This is just one of the creative methods she used to raise her family.

My mother and father also produced two spirited boys, my brother and me. On a trip to Kenora, Ontario, we stopped at a restaurant to eat. My brother and I, ages 4 and 6, had been in the car a long time and were filled with energy. In order to eat, each parent took a shift — one would eat lunch with one boy while the other parent to take the other boy on a walk (or run) to burn off their energy. The system worked, much to the entertainment of the others dining in the restaurant.

My dad and his brother Dave once got their families together to tour Mackinaw Island. Like many visitors we rented bikes to explore the island. Using tandem bikes, we all paired up and began our journey. We decided to travel up the middle of the island which contained many steep grades.

My cousin Patty was paired with my cousin Kathy on one bike, Patty being the lead. Throughout the excursion, Patty would loudly complain as she struggled pedaling up the hill, consistently criticizing for lack of effort on Kathy’s part. Kathy barked out at Patty stating she was trying but was not as athletic as Patty. She did this as she was painting her nails, combing her long brown hair, and at one time was even trying to put on eyeliner, an unsuccessful effort. The aunts and uncles erupted in laughter during the whole adventure. Each time would we would all get together, they would share those experiences and others. There would not be a dry eye in the place as uncontrollable laughter ensued.

Three years ago my mother and father went for a walk down Eastman Road in their hometown of Midland. My dad turned to my mom and said, “Our boys will be all right now, if something were to happen to us they will continue to be successful parents, husbands, brothers, and employees. We have done our job.”

My mother turned to him in surprise, as he had never spoken like this before, but also in agreement. For a parent, this signaled the success of our parenting efforts.

Abraham Lincoln once stated, “It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”

There is not one way to raise a child. Each child is unique, as is each parenting style. Parenting is filled with times of laughter and times of frustration and anxiety. In the end, it is an experience that adds life to our years, a reward that cannot be matched.

Steve Patchin is director of Career Services for Michigan Technological University.

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