A former pastor once said that we should be students of our children. His comment struck an emotional chord with me. Yes, we’re the adults and seemingly know more than our children but really, they are the wise ones, the ones with a keen sense of what’s important in this world.
Last week, we had an awful death in our community when Riley Howell was shot and killed at UNC Charlotte. Since I learned of his death, his parents have been on my mind nonstop. I know how hard it was to lose my mom. I can’t imagine the thought of losing a child.
Before last week’s tragic event, I’d already begun to shift in my ability to fully embrace gratitude. Getting a divorce is not fun by any means, but there have been some positives. Being a single parent is all-encompassing. There’s no one to help and no other adult to talk to or consult with. Single parenting has truly brought my two boys and me closer than ever.
On the blog today, I take a moment to celebrate them. These photos were taken over the last four days but are a snapshot of the my life with them and how they’ve taught me that intentional time with loved ones is the most precious thing in the world.
This photo is of Brooks’s Let Me Run race last Saturday. The kids each had a parent or other mentor run with them. He was excited I ran the race, and even though he ran ahead of me and beat my time by far, we still had so much fun participating together.
Later on Saturday, we stopped by Riley’s memorial and left flowers. My boys have watched me grieve all week. I taught Riley when he was in seventh grade and I have been crushed by his untimely and traumatic death. And while he emerged as a hero by tackling the gunman, it’s still heartbreaking for his family and everyone who knew him to no longer have him here. I learned with my mom’s death that children need to see the adults in their lives grieve and experience loss. Otherwise, they’ll never learn the skills to do so themselves.
I’ve made a commitment to run every day in May which can be challenging when I’m the only adult who can pick up and drop off the boys, cook them dinner, etc. But I’ve told them my commitment and they are on board with me. Sunday we went to the gym and they were so cute reading their books while I ran on the treadmill. As a mom, I often put my needs and desires on the back burner. I’m realizing that not only is that unhealthy, but the kids actually enjoy helping mom or dad achieve his or her goals.
Monday while Brooks was at chorus practice, little Case and I ran/walked the lake together. I’m trying to get in two to four miles every day, but one mile is the minimum. Case and I had to walk occasionally but we got our mile in. Meanwhile, we bonded and giggled.
And yesterday, my big boy and I went on a run together. I love that he’s at an age where we can jog at the same speed. It’s a great way to be active and catch up with him. A counselor told me one time that children open up more about emotions when they are moving. I’ve found this to be true with my boys. When we’re out playing, kicking soccer balls or working in the yard, they are much more willing to talk to me about things that matter.
I look at my children in awe every day. Parents do that naturally, but over the past three years, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for motherhood and the raw joy it offers. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, my friends. I learn that more and more as life continues to throw curve balls.. We’ve got to soak in each moment and quit worrying about trivialities or things that don’t matter in the grand scheme.
Our kids are amazing little beings with so much wisdom to offer. Let them know that every chance you get. Take the time to hold their hands and kiss their cheeks. You will be forever grateful you did.