“Every good tree bears good fruit and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. So, by their fruits you will know them.” — Matthew 7:17 & 20
So, there I was alone in the car, traveling a major highway and lost in thought. My heart was swollen with pride for my children and their accomplishments, when I glanced up to notice a billboard displaying the above scripture from Matthew. A mini “jolt” from above to redirect my thoughts and to inspire me to write in my Blog!
I was heading home after spending some time with my younger daughter, Robin, who is a college senior majoring in Graphic Design. Last weekend was her Portfolio Review, an event organized for graphic design majors to display the culmination of their four years spent mastering techniques and honing skills. Walking into the media center, I was overwhelmed by a multitude of unique textures and a sea of brilliant colors. Each booth was hosted by a young adult explaining his or her particular art forms, but Robin was not immediately visible. It required some maneuvering around a crowd of people and a maze of tables, but eventually I turned a corner and there she was. Dressed for business and ready for the world, she held a professional stance as she spoke with those checking out her booth. I suddenly realized, my little lamb has grown up!
My older daughter, Laura, is already well into adulthood. Having followed in her father’s footsteps, she is an accomplished engineer. Next month she is going to marry a wonderful, kind young man. On my long drive home, it’s no wonder my mind was on the coming events –a college graduation and a wedding — and on how grateful I am to God that our children have grown to be well-rounded, kind and giving people. That’s when I saw the billboard.
Of course, Jesus was not referring to our children when talking about “fruits” in this passage. He was referring to the deeds that people do. “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15) and pay attention to what people actually do, rather than what they say. However, I was in my own little world thinking about the “fruits” of my womb and how they have become the people they are today, and wondering if I had anything to do with it?
I remember once reading in a parental advice column something along the lines of you should not take credit for your children’s accomplishments unless you also want to take responsibility for their mistakes. I decided right then and there not to take credit for their accomplishments (well, most of the time), but I did try to be a good mother.
As I look back, I recall being a phenomenal parent before I had even given birth. Once or twice I spoke up when surrounded by unruly kids, saying things like “my children will never be disobedient” and “my children will never cry in public places.” One of my most regrettable declarations was an emphatic promise that no child of mine would ever consume sugar and would only view quality television shows. How often I ate those words as I handed my pre-schooler a bag of M & Ms while sitting her in front of a Scooby-Doo cartoon. It seemed a small price to pay for a few minutes of peace.
Now that my daughters are adults, it seems I have once again attained “Superb Mom” status. As they are doing so well, it is easy for me to spout my successes and make recommendations to other struggling parents — “this is how it’s done.” However, it’s no great task to be the perfect parent before actually being one or after the children are on their own. It is in the midst of dirty diapers, cranky napless days, ornery teenagers and many, many difficult unforeseen circumstances which occur over a 20-year span, that challenges parents to do the right things or say the right words while in the moment of chaos. More often than not, I found myself saying, “I wish I had done this” or “I should have said that.” When it comes to parenting, I believe what truly matters is how you are most of the time, and how good are the “deeds” your children are witnessing.
Many times in the bible, Jesus asks us to do good deeds and to share our gifts with others. There are no recipients of such gifts more important than our children. One day, when you see them share their gifts, it is indescribable joy!