The last of the Harvey children, Wynton and Lori, are grown and on their own. Steve and I are are now grandparents of four. The longer I live, the more I realize that (in most things significant, mundane, or otherwise) you are the most valuable thing you will ever bring to life’s proverbial table. Parenting is perhaps the quintessential example of this principle.

There is a hilarious diaper commercial which displays how obsessed a first time mother is with keeping germs away from her new born. She is intent on maintaining a flawless environment for her precious little one, as if great parenting is synonymous with parental perfection. The commercial very quickly reveals the same mother with her second baby. She’s clearly a much wiser woman. Beautifully, she rolls with the punches and does the best she can giving the child the essential care needed in the moment. It’s clear she realizes that the task of raising a child in a germ free/threat free environment is impossible.  Ultimately she’s come to realize that in life, even for babies, a little dirt won’t hurt.

What a wonderful snapshot of the reality of parenting. The same is true as our young ones transition into whatever is their next level/phase of growth. In general, as a parent, you will sometimes exceed the call of duty, offering your children above and beyond what they may even be aware that they need or want. Other times, you will look at them with wonder and amazement, quietly pondering how you both survived.

The most important thing I’ve come to realize, however, as a mother (of seven) as well as a doting grandmother, is that giving yourself to the little ones who’ve divinely been entrusted into your care, is your most important task. To expect to get every moment right along the way is a recipe for disaster because it simply won’t happen. Moreover, children will learn from both your successes, as well, as your failures. As long as they know they have you actively engaged in loving them, raising them, looking out for their best interest, guiding them on a wise path, they’ll grow up to be strong, healthy, and perhaps even great human beings!

So resist defining whether you’ve raised them “right” based on the absence of flaws or challenges. They are teachers too!  Instead focus your energy on raising them truthfully by giving them the tools to navigate through life’s difficulties using the testimony of your own life as the example. Give them you! -A committed, engaged, transparent parent! Their lives will be all the better for it and so will yours. Happy parenting to all the amazing moms and fathers out there, from my heart to yours!