When Hubby and I got married, only two months later my parents moved into a much larger, nicer house. When anyone ohhhed and ahhhed about their new place, they would just smile and say they had gotten a “financial windfall” — no more kids at home!
Anyway, they moved next door to a very nice older lady, Mrs. R. Mrs. R and Mama became friends over the years and loved to talk over the back fence, mainly about the roses they both grew.
One day, after my parents had lived there about 10 years, Mrs. R brought a new member of her “family” out to the fence for Mama to meet – a beautiful brindle boxer puppy, Max. The next time, we were over there, Hubby and the kids and I got to meet Max too.
How Mrs. R LOVED Max. We didn’t see him often because he wasn’t an “outside dog” — translation, very little exercise. But, once in a while, Mama would ask one of us while we were there to run something over to Mrs. R or we would see Max out in her back yard. When we DID see him, it became quickly obvious that Max was becoming BIG Max. And I don’t mean taller. Mama would tell us that Mrs. R fed Max like he was a human. Anything SHE ate — HE ate. In fact, one time when I was over there to pick up/deliver something, while we were chatting, she got a wine bottle and REFILLED the saucer out of which Max was drinking!
Long story short, Max didn’t live very many years, and was, as they say, “morbidly obese” when he died. It was pretty obvious that Mrs. R had literally Loved Max To Death! Something I KNOW she would never have intentionally done, because she was heartbroken when he was gone.
Going back to when I lived at home — Mama loved me, her surprise late-life baby, and enjoyed spoiling me in a way that she would have loved to have done with their four older children, but wasn’t able to do. This was mainly because money was easier now because Daddy had moved up the ladder in his job and, also, because there was now only ONE of me! So, she SPOILED me. That’s nice when you are on the receiving end — until you have to go out in the world and function as an adult.
When Hubby and I got married, I didn’t know how to cook, clean, write a check, iron clothes or do laundry! My guess is that it didn’t take long for Mama to regret not having made me learn more of these life skills, and that may be the reason (besides that she DID love me) that she continued to be a great source of support for me.
I called Mama right after we got married and asked her how I would know when and to whom I should write checks out of our brand new checkbook. She chuckled and said, “Don’t worry, the people who need for you to write them a check will let you know — it’s called a bill!”
For the first two years we were married, on Friday night, we would bundle our dirty laundry up in the dirty bed sheets and take it all over to Mama and Daddy’s house. On Sunday, they would have us over for the one good meal we would have that week, and when we left, we would carry home our clean laundry and sheets, all folded and stacked in brown paper sacks! After two years, when we told them that I was expecting our first child, Mama memorably said, “It’s time for you to get a washer and dryer — I don’t do diapers.” I always say that if I had known things were going to take THAT nasty turn — we might never have had children!
I did eventually learn the things I needed to know, with varying degrees of success, but my point is that my start in “adult” life would have been easier if Mama had MADE ME learn some basics when I was still at home. Did she intentionally make my entrance into adult life harder? Absolutely not. But, that didn’t change the results.
So, my point is — be wise with your love — predict the consequences of your actions. Don’t love your children so much that you aren’t willing to MAKE them learn to do things for themselves. And, I’d like to say, “They’ll thank you later.” But, they may not! So, don’t do it for the “Thanks” later — do it because it’s the right thing to do.
A quote from General Norman Schwarzkopf, “The truth of the matter is, we always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”
May God grant all of us wisdom in the way we show our love to those around us, especially to those He has put in our care.