Last week we read the first half of an email our son, a soldier, sent for Mother's Day from deployment in Afghanistan.
Here's the second half. It applies to Father's Day as well.
6.They made us do chores.
I remember learning the value of work and how to appreciate the clean clothes and clean dishes in the house that "magically" appeared every day. When you spend time out of your day doing chores you understand that someone spent their time to make it happen.
I also learned that work can be fun. I remember working with Dad splitting wood and how he made a game of who could get it done in one hit of the axe. You got sweaty and your shoulders and arms hurt but you didn't notice as much when you were making a game or competition of it. I even remember timing myself mowing the lawn to see if I could improve efficiency by doing different patterns.
7. They lived their faith.
I see so many people making life decisions worried about how they will pay the bills. I don't think that paying bills is bad or planning for your financial future is wrong, but it does affect your attitude if you are always worried about bills.
My parents trusted that if they were doing what God wanted them to do that things would work out. That doesn't mean we were out eating steak dinners every night and taking European vacations every summer, but we made do with what we had and there was always food on the table and a roof over our heads. We sometimes arrived in an older model car wearing second-hand clothes but we learned that happiness is not related to the size of your bank account.
8. They read to us.
Nothing expands your vocabulary or imagination like being read to as a child. I remember the nightly ritual of Mom reading a few chapters from a book. This was a great introduction to literature. I remember hearing about history and the correct use of the English language.
This also made trips to the library a fun adventure. I remember being so excited to find a few books to bring home. We didn't realize it at the time but our mother taking the time to read to us brought us all together as a family and inspired discussions and provoked thought.
9. They laughed with us.
Growing up in a big family was fun and a great way to prepare you for life. You learned to not take yourself too seriously. We laughed a lot. I remember many times around the table we were always laughing and happy. We played jokes on each other and had many experiences that turned into a funny story.
We went on family vacations, camping, hunting, made applesauce over a fire from apples we picked during a weekend in a neighboring state, canned vegetables from our garden, and many other fun activities.
We learned that if you make a mistake it's O.K. to laugh at yourself and if life gets too hard to laugh instead of getting mad.
I sometimes start laughing when I get stuck in traffic and see other drivers cutting others off and waiving hand gestures at the other cars because I realize that they haven't learned to laugh at themselves and take things in stride. Learning to laugh at life and take everything with a grain of salt made us resilient and ready to go out in the world and get knocked down a few times and not worry about the things we can't control.
10. They made us learn a musical instrument.
I feel sorry for the people who never experienced the joy of expressing themselves through playing music. Singing is enjoyable and fun to participate in but does not equal the feeling of playing music.
I know it was not fun hearing all of us clank on the piano and screech away on wind instruments and I know taking us to lessons was not fun, but my parents stuck it out. We did not all have the natural talent but learned the basics of reading music. We had the experience of creating music and expressing yourself which is invaluable. We learned that hard work and practice can overcome a lack of natural talent or as someone once said, " Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard". That is a life lesson that can be applied to almost
anything you do.
What about you? Have anything to add about your parents? Feel free to comment below.