Parenting is probably the toughest and most rewarding gig I will ever be gifted with.
If there were ever a job to keep you both on your toes and humble, it is that of being a parent. Just as you think things are going well or you have a true handle on how ‘life works’ a new behavior, struggle or challenge (be it school or otherwise) presents itself.
If you’re lucky you have ears to bounce it off of or share frustration with. The answers are rarely found in books or on Google, although many of us turn to that. Children are individuals and therefore often times so are their solutions.
I recently finished the book “You Can You Will” by Joel Osteen. A good read, but a bit of a mash-up reprint of his 2004 Best Seller, “Your Best Life Now.”
Religious beliefs aside, I’ve always enjoyed listening to Osteen as a speaker. His messages typically speak more to humanity and how we can be better human beings and/or challenge ourselves to rise to any occasion.
One Chapter of “You Can You Will” spoke specifically to Serving Others. Ironically I read this chapter just days after friend and community volunteer Jo Harris was named Citizen of the Year by Oakdale Chamber of Commerce. Jo is a premium example of serving others. She does so consistently with a smile, a chuckle and a no problem spirit. In short, it’s effortless for her, because she (in my opinion) has the heart of a servant.
The beauty of these ‘types’ of humans, is the way in which their one simple act or selflessness trickles down to others. Sort of the Pay it Forward concept in everyday life.
These are not people who expect more in return. In fact, often times you will hear them reply to gratitude with ‘it was my pleasure,’ ‘it was nothing,’ or ‘you’re welcome. It was an honor to help.’
The servant’s heart does not look for recognition, accolade or grandiose praise; more times than not the act of serving just simply makes them happy.
So one might wonder, what does all this have to do with parenting?
Shortly after completing that portion of the book, I was confronted by a parenting challenge. This one happened to be in the way of appropriate manners, details beyond that really aren’t necessary.
As I spoke to my children about the behaviors, raising our bar of excellence as a family and becoming more mindful of how our behaviors impact others, I couldn’t help but think of this chapter on being a servant or serving others.
As a parent it truly does start in our own home. The children we raise, how we serve them, the standard by which we hold them responsible as human beings then impacts the world. Yes, that’s not being dramatic, that’s actual truth. Eventually they leave the nest and when they do, they take with them what has been modeled and taught.
I’ve always believed the role of parent is that more of a stewardship. Children are not ‘ours,’ they are not possessions but human life. We are gifted with the ability to impact their lives and then they become the world’s. Their lessons and care can ultimately benefit the world. They too can and hopefully will grow to also be servants.
In short, it’s easy for anyone to sit back and look at the résumé of selflessness by a woman like Jo and think ‘must be nice to have that kind of time’ or the means or whatever. The truth is all of those things have nothing to do with who she is as a human. She is perhaps one of the busiest women I know, this is just how she does life.
Living a life of being a servant begins in our home. If we’re lucky we’re offered the opportunity to model it to our children through helping others. This in turn teaches them the beauty of living with a servant’s heart. It’s truly that simple.
The task of course is the challenge. Maintaining the focus as the hurdles of parenting arise and to not throw up our hands and decide it will work itself out, but rather challenge ourselves to find the teaching moments.
The legacy I hope to leave this planet with, has little to do with what I did personally in the way of achievement or giving. My legacy will be the two little people I leave to pay it forward to the world they were blessed with. Two more servants left to a world in need of their hearts and hands, unconditionally.
In the words of Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.