The Art of Parenting

My mom and dad just celebrated their 61st Anniversary.

For the big day, they got just what they wanted from their seven kids.

Seven visits. The five kids living in the Chicago suburbs stopped by their home, and the two of us in California visited by phone. 

Seven visits. That’s all they wanted. Their gift? Seeing if we’re in love. And if we can take a punch.

It’s a bit of ‘good cop, bad cop’ that they play with the seven of us.

My Mom is the ‘doctor’; checking to see how our hearts are doing. She smiles and nods at our stories, but she’s really just getting a good reading on the love-level in our marriage, with our kids, with our careers, and most importantly, with how much we love ourselves.

It’s pretty much a one-way conversation.  When you ask my mom how she’s doing, she’ll smile and say something like, “Great.  So tell me more about what’s cooking.”

The Doctor just wants to hear about us.

My Dad — he’s the ‘bad cop.’ He’s the boxing trainer in the other corner of their living room.  He looks us in the eyes to make sure we’re doing one thing. Taking enough punches, and throwing enough punches.

My dad always lets the seven of us (and the zillion grandkids) know that you want to take enough punches to toughen you up just enough – so that when you get hit with big right hook, it doesn’t knock you off your feet.

One of my favorite quotes of my dear old dad; “If you don’t play in the streets, you can’t get hit by the cars.”

He likes to hear about the punches you’ve recently experienced… Who’s slapping you around at work — and he loves to know all the details about who you delivered a good punch to the gut to that closed a deal.

Father like son, I’ve always been fascinated with vaccine shots. Your body gets pricked with just enough poison – just to make sure your system is on its game in case a gang of God-knows-what knocks on your door.

My mom and dad are a hoot in their ‘eighty-something’ years – and they have never been more in love.  Rain or shine, every day they wake up thankful for the joy of life.  Like old birds, they follow the weather and migrate to and from the warmth of Florida — and back to their protected nest in the Chicago suburbs.

The seven of us may have all moved out of our childhood home decades ago – but every single day they remind all seven of us that they’re still our mom and dad.  We’ll always be home because of them.

Not by what they say, but what they do.  By how they choose to live their lives.  By how they treasure family.  By how they respect each other.  By how they respect their children.

The Doctor and the Boxing Trainer.

Lucky us to be so blessed.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad…



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