While They Watch



Recently my husband and I were away from Gray Baby for a weekend. My mother-in-law snapped a photo of our reunion. I noticed that Gray was looking off in the distance and realized she was staring at her dad. Of course. Despite being a bit jealous of the attention being taken away from me, it dawned on me that she is always watching one of us. 


I learned a number of valuable lessons from watching my parents throughout my childhood and into adulthood. I have no idea if either my mom or dad realized what I learned, but I am eternally grateful for those lessons. For example, I remember riding in my dad’s 1989 Chevy truck down a rougher part of town on our way home from Wal-Mart with rain pounding against the windshield wipers. Without warning, my dad slowed down and turned the truck around. He put the truck into park and rolled down his window to greet an elderly woman walking in the downpour. She was on the way to her home so he offered to drive her instead. When we arrived to her deteriorating home, he helped her to her front porch by gently guiding her elbow. He even gave her some of the groceries we had just purchased. We didn’t talk much on the remainder of our ride home. My dad didn’t tell me why he stopped. He didn’t take the time out to explain to me the importance of helping those in need even when it’s not your responsibility. Instead, we just rode in the rain in silence.

I watched that interaction with my young eyes and can still recall that look of gratitude in that woman’s eyes.

The lessons I learned from my mother are lessons that as a new mother I have come to appreciate more than when I was younger. My mother is nothing less than impressive and amazing. She raised four children while working full-time, including starting a nationally-recognized high school agriculture program from literally the ground up. I don’t think she knows how much of an impression she left on me when she woke up at 5am to get to school early and came home after dark to see us and help us before staying up even later to grade papers and get ready for the next morning. She refused, and refuses even today, to half-ass anything. She’s not one to curse, but it’s true. She didn’t make a show of how exhausted she was even when she had to drive to the grocery store at 11pm to buy a poster board for a last minute project we forgot about. She never called into work. She treated her students just like she treated us.

Praise was never expected; she just did what she had to do.

I wonder what Gray Baby will learn from me without me knowing? She’s only one, but I know her eyes follow me everywhere I go. I hope I am able to instill important life lessons even when I don’t realize she’s watching.

I want her to know that everyone deserves a smile. Smiles are not gestures meant to be saved only for those you love or admire. A smile is meant to radiate happiness. Your day can change from sharing or receiving a smile. 

I want her to understand what respectful love entails. This includes welcomed physical affection, spoken kind words, and mutual loving gestures.

I want her to realize it is ok to show emotions. Sometimes you have to scream or cry in order to keep going. There is nothing weak about these outbursts. They make you human.

I want her to see how beautiful she is and how she is the one who determines that beauty. 

I want her to witness me being the most capable mother I can be no matter the circumstances. 

This is not a declaration of how I will always be a perfect parent whether Gray Baby is watching or not. This is a gentle reminder that as parents our tiny humans could be watching at any instance. Be thoughtful in your actions and words and be the best version of yourself every day.