She sacrificed hugely to ensure her son grew up to be the fine, honest and caring young man that he is. She has not so much as had a date since she was left by her son's father. She has brought him to Mass, taught him the Faith and ensured he has stayed on the straight and narrow, even when he has tried to step off it at times. This young man is, quite rightly, proud of his mum.
Even as our boys reach the age of 19, we don't just wash our hands and say, 'You're on your own now.' I have been surprised and a little alarmed at the number of parents with younger children who think I must be pleased to have 'finished' with at least one (and some of them think I only need parent the 3 smalls).
Physcially toddlers are more demanding, what with all those tantrums, time out, and toys; but teens are more emotionally demanding, and while everyone thinks its the little ones that need so much protection, having a 14yr old daughter has taught me a whole lot more about protection.
I have a friend who has 4 boys the youngest is 15 and the oldest is in his twenties. All of them are perfect gentlemen-a rare thing today. They are known in our parish for their reliability, integrity and good sense. She and her husband have worked hard to ensure their children have grown up like this. Families like this don't just happen- there has to be a lot of hard, hard work to ensure those boys learn respect, honesty and the importance of their Faith.
I have just finished reading "Back To The Family" by Dr Ray Guarendi and David Eich in which they looked at 100 of America's "Excellent" families. The first thing that struck me, in reading about these families was the genuine humility of the parents. Not one of them put themselves forward for this label -they had all been chosen externally, mainly by teachers. I think just about all the families had faced at least one crisis, but they had come through. They coped because they were prepared to support one another and because long-term consistant, persistant discipline. They didn't give up, no matter how tough it got.
Interestingly all the families were Christian. When Dr. Ray wrote about the faith the families had that held them together and rooted their values he had problems with the publishers. But it was clear from reading the book that Grace was running through these families. As parents our ultimate goal is surely to get our kids into heaven. We need to work very hard to do this and use every ounce of grace available to us.
Parenting is about persistance and persperation and sometimes (often even) downroight exhuation-but in the end I want my children to be like the adults in that book. If my kids don't make it to heaven, how will I?