by Dale Trenholm
February 18, 2014 (ISN) – Fifty? It would never have crossed my mind, 40 years ago, that I would have an opportunity to share my thoughts for the public to read. This article is for my parents, your parents, and current parents supporting their children’s sports, school, and life.
The movie “The Gladiator” says it best for me: “I salute you!” As a parent who raised three daughters through sports, school, life, and all the challenges associated with raising a family, “I salute you.”
I can’t help but think about the insight that parents attain, about what my parents went through, and about how we never stop being a parent even when those imaginative little critters called grand children start taking the space where our precious children once slept. No matter how we cut it, parents are there for their children doing the best they can – learning, teaching, supporting, and loving them – from that precious moment when their miracle belts out that first surreal cry.
The first cry is the beginning of what some might say is the toughest job a man and a woman will ever face. We not only have to care for our children, but also keep our relationship alive through communicating, teamwork, understanding, and a whole lot of patience in those early years when children need our constant attention. If you are so lucky as a parent to have one of you stay home and care for your children’s emotional and physical wellbeing, like I was as a stay at home dad when my girls were three months, four, and six years old, I can relate to the challenges and rewards that come with being there full time for your children.
Experiencing the successes, challenges, mistakes, and lessons I learned over the years as a stay-at-home dad has given me an insight I would never have had otherwise. This I am thankful for. I know what my mother had to go through, what other mothers have to go through, and what stay-at-home dads go through. I know what my father had to go through, and I know what other parents have to go through to raise responsible, well-adjusted young adults who contribute to society in a positive and productive way.
As I sit here staring at the computer screen writing, thinking of that one word or words that best describes a parent’s journey, only two words come to mind: Unconditional Love! I was once asked, “What is the most important part of being a parent?” My answer was, undeniably, unconditional love. This is the seed that everything else grows from – from the roots, to the trunk, to the fruit. This is the water for our children’s souls. When the roots are strong, the children are able to withstand the challenges that come their way throughout their life.
At the same time, if we plant conditions for love with our children, or our marriage, the tree will be challenged to blossom and produce the beautiful fruit we want to see as parents. This is not to say discipline and being taken for granted are pushed to the wayside. I have seen the roots ripped out when parents split up, which should never be the case when children are concerned. Unconditional love should still be applied for the wellbeing of our children.
This being said, with unconditional love comes an array of emotions such as worry, pain, sadness, joy, anger, hope, frustration, satisfaction, and, yes, the emotions that accompany graduation and age (yes you will get there) once our children are off to university or working full time and starting a family of their own. All these emotions and experiences are just a part of life, and they will happen to all of us as parents.
From a parent who is still a son at 50, to my parents, I see more and more what parents do, did, and experience. I want to give an unconditional thank you to my mother and father, and to all the mothers and fathers for everything they have gone through, and for doing the best they know how to help their children be the best they can with the individual challenges they experience. Thank you for thinking about and caring for us 24/7. You are amazing, and with the utmost respect, love, and encouragement to my parents and other parents out there, “I Salute You.”