Honor thy father and thy mother…
by Lana Turnbull
As I was working on this, the May/June issue of Well-Being, I thought how often we include articles about how parents can help their children grow up happier and healthier. As parents, the responsibility to set them on the right path to adulthood is always on our minds. We want to be sure we encourage them to eat healthy food, get enough exercise, get the most from school, make friends, have rewarding extracurricular activities…and the list goes on and on. Parenting is, in itself a full-time job, and we also have to deal with work, finances, household chores, community commitments… sometimes it seems overwhelming.
When we feel like there couldn’t possibly be anyone who can understand the load we are carrying, anyone who truly has walked in our shoes, I suggest that there is in fact someone who knows exactly what it’s like – our parents. Since May and June are the months when we set aside special days to honor our mothers and our fathers, it occurred to me how small the flowers, pretty cards, meals at a restaurant or even the most thoughtful gifts seem when compared to what our parents and grandparents have given us.
It’s easy to be caught up in the merchandising of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. After all, it’s everywhere, but how often do we really take the time to tell our parents exactly how much they mean to us. It reminds me of the beginning of the Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem… “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” And there are so many ways. When we add up the hours they gave helping us with homework, sitting up all night with us when we were sick, teaching us to ride a bike, helping us understand the difference between right and wrong, and comforting us when we hurt…whether it was from a scraped knee or a broken heart – they were there for us. Some of us might have had different parental figures in our lives, a grandmother, an aunt or uncle, a foster parent, but whatever the circumstances, we know in our hearts who we could always count on, and they, no matter by what name we call them, are our real mothers and fathers.
In my family, we have a tradition that we wear a red rose on Mother’s and Father’s Day if our parents are living and a white rose if they have passed away. I remember how thankful I have always felt to pin on the red rose for my mother, though my father has been gone from my life for over thirty years. My mother, also was blessed to wear a red rose for her parents until they passed away in their late eighties and nineties.
As I think about how my family will honor our parents this year (my mother and my husband’s mother and father), I only hope we can show them how much we respect and appreciate what they have done for us, how they have supported us, and most of all, how they have loved us, no matter what. For it’s only as we become parents and grandparents ourselves that we can even begin to understand the blessings and the sacrifices our own parents have made for us. For that they deserve the best we can give back.
This Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and every day of the year…we wish you all the love and honor you so rightly deserve.