I was not shown much love by my adoptive mother, most often is was criticism or a lie. My adoptive dad would show me love when he had time. I wanted my children to never feel the way I did as a child. I was going to not lie or be critical of my children. Mostly I wanted to be there to listen. Listen to their problems, fears, struggles, as well as their successes, triumphs and dreams.
I encouraged my children in learning whatever activity they desired to learn. I made sure they did their homework and would ask questions about what they were studying to make sure they understood. I taught them to clean, cook, and do laundry, skills they would need one day when they were on their own. They did not like me all the time when I made them clean a room instead of going to visit a friend or watch television.
We did 4-H, and showed all kinds of animals, as well as learned leathercraft, ceramics, and rocketry. With one of my children I even learned about airplanes and the history of flying as he was in the Civil Air Patrol.
I felt like I drove a taxi, taking four children in four different directions. I struggled to make their ball games and theater practices. I was not able to make all their events, but they knew I was rooting for them even though I was not there. After an event I had missed, they answered a thousand questions on how their event went. I wanted to know all about it.
Children grow, as soon it was time to start letting go. The hardest thing I had to teach myself was to let my children be adults. It is not easy to let them go. Although the process is gradual, it happens quickly. I had to let go and let them make decisions on what they wanted to do, what they wanted to wear, and who their friends were going to be. Then comes the day, they moved out of my home.
It is not easy helping your child pack up their clothes and belongings and move into another place to live. Yet, I was in there helping them put their belongings in boxes, as I fought to hold the tears in their place. I did not want them to see the tears fall. They had reached a place where they were able to triumphantly leave home, I did not want to dampen their experience with my tears.
When your children find that special someone in their life, a parent really has to let go of it all. There is no more advice or guidance on how to manage their money or make decisions. They have someone to do that with, and it is not the parent. I loved them by letting go, setting them free from me to be with someone else.
I show love today to my children, who are now parents. I encourage them when they tell me about how difficult it is sometimes to be a tough parent. I ask how the children are doing, and how they are. When my son moved to Indiana, my heart sank, but I did not let him know. I expressed happiness for him and his family. I let him know he had to think of his family and how to provide for them. I loved him by listening and encouraging him. He is a good provider for his family. They are farther from me, visits will be hard to make and I will not be able to see the grandchildren as often. But loving involves letting them be the spouse and parent they need to be.
My children have told me that the one thing they know they have always had was unconditional love. Sometimes I was hard and stern, but I always loved them.