The most important lesson I learned about parenting I learned from the author Toni Morrison. She was on Oprah years ago and she said something that I thought was so smart that I decided to put it into practice. I still do it to this day.
Toni Morrison told Oprah that when your child walks into a room your face should reflect what's in your heart~the pure joy you have that they exist. Sure, in your mind you might be thinking that their hair needs combing, their shirt needs ironing, and that they need to hurry up and finish breakfast... but those thoughts shouldn't be visible on your face. Toni Morrison asked, when your child walks into the room, "Does your face light up?"
Mine does. When the boys get up in the morning I greet them with a smile that extends into my eyes. When they get home from school my face lights up and they know I am delighted to see them. Waiting for them in the car and they climb in after practice...again, they get an upbeat greeting.
I wonder what all our lives would have been like if everytime we saw our parent for the first time in a few hours they had greeted us with a joyful heart and smiling eyes?
I'll tell you what life is like for my guys: they know they are loved to the core of their being. They don't have to do anything to make me happy, they simple have to be. It's absolutely true, my life is better simply because they are in it.
Sure, they do tons of things that make me proud and happy, but it's not required of them for them to see and feel my love. I think it has shaped them as people. They don't have to hustle to feel like they matter. They don't exhibit a bunch of attention-seeking behaviors. As adolescents they realize they don't have to have a girlfriend to feel valued or cared about.
Not only did greeting the boys with what's in my heart shape them, it also changed me. Every single time I see them I am thankful. I have an immense gratitude that they are in my heart and in my life. They say that the root of joy is thankfulness, and feeling and expressing my gratitude for these guys has made me a happier person.
They are the gift that keeps giving.