Happy Mother’s Day! Someone remarked to me recently what a good mother I am, to which I responded that it’s easy when the kids aren’t around. My children are slowly growing up and moving away from Mom and Dad. Does that sadden me? No. It makes me happy and proud. That’s what’s supposed to happen. My oldest son, Mike, is married to the lovely Laura 🙂 and living in downtown Chicago. Brian is finishing up his second year of grad school at DePaul University and also living downtown. He has started working on his thesis, which will be the final piece of his graduate studies and will take him well into the next school year. As his mom, I would love if he could make his career in Chicago, and that could happen, however, I know that his field may very well lead him to other parts of the country. And that’s okay, too. If that happens, we’ll miss him terribly, but he must follow his path. My two youngest, Peter and Mary Kate, only have a short time left to be together, as students in the Percussion Studio at University of Iowa. Peter is set to graduate next Saturday and then, together, they will embark on the Steel Band Tour the following week. (Since it’s Mother’s Day, I will boast that Mary Kate is the only freshman who will be going on the tour…so that’s pretty cool 🙂 As a girl drummer, she totally rocks!) The University of Tennessee in Knoxville then beckons Peter to begin his graduate studies in the fall, a short six hundred mile drive away…
Today, I will spend my Mother’s Day in Iowa City for Pete’s final recital. As a music major, he was required to perform a formal Senior Recital, which is much more than simply a performance. It involves choosing the music, researching the composers and the background of the pieces, creating arrangements of pieces and, of course, a perfect execution of the music for an audience. Pete chose to perform a recital his sophomore, junior and senior years. His formal Senior Recital was nothing short of awesome. The recital which I am attending today, is what he has termed, his “fun” recital. I’m not sure how many kids would voluntarily perform an extra recital, just for fun. I’m guessing not many. And I can’t wait to hear and see him play. My husband and I made the three-hour drive to Iowa City two nights ago to see the last Steel Band Concert of the school year, and, more importantly, the last concert Mary Kate and Peter will perform together. Today, we will see Peter’s last performance of his undergraduate career. And we can’t wait. Next Thursday, I’ll make that drive again to move MK out of her dorm and into her brother’s apartment as they prepare for their tour. I will then return on Friday for the graduation on Saturday. After sending four children to the University of Iowa, the drive is second nature. Like running to the grocery store. “I’m going to Iowa. Be back in six hours…Need anything while I’m out?”
So, yes, I’m celebrating the fact that my kids are leaving me. You should be too. And, if your kids are still young-uns, remember that this is the goal.
So, on this Mother’s Day, I will leave you with my unsolicited advice on parenting (in no particular order):
1. Don’t be afraid of the word NO. It may very well be the most important one in your vocabulary. Just ask my kids…
2. Instill a solid faith in God. It’s what will get them through the tough times.They may stray, but will hopefully return if they have something to return to.
3. Let them know that there WILL be tough times. I will repeat the wise words of a priest at church: “Parents, teach your kids that life is not fair.”
4. Laugh. Laugh loud and often. Tease and allow yourself to be teased.
5. Expose them to everything – sports, music, chess, books, theater, etc and see what excites them. And then encourage them to follow their dreams.
And most importantly…
6. Do not discourage or quash their spirit. “Every child is an artist until they are told they are not” John Lennon