27 April 2012

Sacrifices & Memories

Today, Sweetheart and I spent most of the day at Eyemasters getting our eyeglasses replaced. We also had to replace my little Princess', since her prescription changed after only six months. Princess loved it! She was so excited. She was jumping up and down and running around putting on glasses so fast they weren't even on her face all the way before the next pair took their place. It was all Sweetheart and I could do to keep up with her. Especially since Little Man was a wee bit tired and cranky.

By the time we finally got it done and made it home with a take out dinner, I collapsed into my chair while my love got out plates and started sorting out the food. As I sat there catching my breath and preparing to bless the meal, it occurred to me how amazing this day had been.

My Mama once told me that her job was to make sure my life was better than hers. Not easier, mind you. Better. There's a distinct difference. We're not here to spoil our kids and make their lives easy. We're her to enrich their lives. To train them up in ways that will carry them through all their days.

Mama never would have been able to buy three pairs of designer glasses with ultra thin Transition lenses and, of course, pretty purple flowers on the smallest pair. She had to buy the simplest, thickest ones she could afford for me. And she just skipped hers. She tried to give me every opportunity she could. She worked outrageous hours trying to keep food on the table, but she made sure that I was kept occupied and stimulated by enrolling me in gifted programs and giving me all the books I could ever hope for. She instilled in me my love for reading. She figured out ways to help me with my homework (even though, as she pointed out, she had very little education) and developed in me problem-solving techniques and a love of challenge.

To do all this, she worked so many hours that to see her I had to go to her job. Then she was disabled in an accident and was finally able to be home and enjoy the fruits of her labor. Well, as much as you can enjoy anything through extreme, constant pain. But she almost never mentioned the pain. She didn't complain about her situation. She enjoyed the time to focus on her family instead. She took me on trips around Texas, showing me my family's history. She took her grandkids, so their parents could have breaks. She made crafts and dolls and toys for the kids and grandkids, and later, as she lay dying of cancer in the hospital, for the new babies being born in the maternity wing. Mama wasn't a saint, but she was a very good Mama, whom I miss more with every passing year. I think of all the sacrifices she made to give me the freedom to learn and grow, and I'm humbled. I strive every day to make her proud.

My wife's parents were the same way. Sweetheart tells stories about how her Mom stretched an almost nonexistent food budget farther than it should have been able to stretch. Of how her Dad refused to spend money on doctors for himself because it would have meant his kids couldn't have health care if they got sick. And of how he would push through even to the point where he was finally found unconscious at work because he had refused to get treatment for a wound that got infected, because his family needed the money instead. So the kids never felt that they were poor, Mom would make special days of shopping to the Goodwill store or garage sales to buy clothes and wear her own till they fell apart. She created traditions around holidays and birthdays that would not only bind the family together, but make each child feel special at the same time. In a family with four kids, that's not always possible, but she did a great job of it.

And of course, with all four kids and both parents in glasses, eye care costs required enormous sacrifices. Mom and Dad would go years without getting new glasses, to the point that Mom got to where it wasn't safe for her to drive because she could no longer see well enough. My Sweetheart has some outrageously bad eyes. Even today, her contacts and glasses are so expensive we can't help but gasp when the bill comes in. But Mom and Dad kept her in up to date prescriptions no matter what.

Sacrifice. It's in our job description as parents. Our job is to give our kids the best possible chance at a better life than ours. Thanks to the sacrifices of our parents, the sacrifices Sweetheart and I have to make pale in comparison. All of our parents set us on the road pretty well prepared for our own trip into parenthood.

I know this has been a mushy post, but some time that's the only way it can be. Thanks Mama and thanks Mom and thanks Dad for sacrificing so much to make our lives better. We promise to do our best to pass it on.