As most Moms know, the value of the gifts we receive from our children has nothing to do with money. In fact, the most precious cost nothing in terms of currency. There are the traditional handprint turkeys, hand-drawn pictures, decorated photo frames, hugs, kisses, odd and charming breakfasts in bed. When I was little, we made ashtrays and weaved weird little leather wallets, all no doubt invaluable to our parents, as evidenced after they passed and we were tasked with clearing out the cluttered houses.
But there are other gifts we receive as parents, gifts that change us, gifts that make us better people, gifts that affect our very core and humble us. And so, for the next few weeks, I am going to write about those gifts.
The Gift of A Voice
Recently, my daughter wrote a letter to her grandmother who is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. Her grandmother, my mother-in-law, no longer knows her grandchildren, but my Natalie visits her often and tries every time to connect with her. In her letter, Natalie reminds her grandmother of who she was and of who she believes she still is deep inside and, most definitely, of who she will always be in her granddaughter’s memory. And one of the things Natalie so admires in her grandmother is her voice and her strength, her willingness and determination to always speak up for what she believes is right. She is my daughter’s hero, and, truly, Natalie has chosen well. My mother-in-law always spoke up, always advocated for those who were not able, whether her young children, her elderly relatives or those whom she didn’t even know.
And this is something I have always struggled with. And this is something my children have taught me. It is one of their gifts to me, this need to advocate, to stand up to bullies, to authority, to those who would do harm. It’s never easy, not for anybody. And it’s never clear, and there is never a solid path. But to be strong is never easy, and even as I watch my mother-in-law disappear, I see her strength grow in my own daughter and even in myself.