When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you're making a commitment and difference in that person's life. Encouragement really does make a difference.
One year, after the basketball draft, a couch walked up to me to say, “I am so glad your son is on our team this year. We know how you cheer and support your team and I am glad you will be cheering in my favor this year.”
For one single year, I was a cheerleader in high school – my senior year. What a great joy that was for me because encouragement is my natural gift. My sons benefitted from this gift in the classroom and on the sports field. If there was an opportunity to bring snacks or donate money for a school project, I made sure my name was on the list. If the budget would allow, I liked trying to send the school trip fee for my child and one other child. I viewed this as paying it forward. In elementary school, the teachers noticed which parents were partners with them in focusing on their children’s education. I always wanted my name on the advocate list. As the fellas got older, I helped with the PTA, took off from work when I could to chaperone field trips, planned 8th grade dances and was room and team mom.
The value that you get from this extends past your child. You now become someone the other children recognize as an advocate. It was important to me not to draw too much attention to myself. My job was to galvanize the adults and cheer for the children. We were also the optional transportation for students throughout the years. Whether we were the rotation for the carpool or the last minute “can your mom drop me off”, the Valentine Van was always had room for one more.
You don’t realize the markers this leaves with your children, until you see them patterning after you. I can list numerous times when out of concern or necessity the fellas asked if we could take a child home or pick them up because their parent wouldn’t be able to. I remember walking across the basketball court with two children during a senior year celebration because a parent was caught in traffic. This ended up being a prelude to enjoying these very accomplished adults through accepted Facebook and Linkedin invitations.
Through this my guys have learned the value of encouraging others and I have to say I feel as if I am the main beneficiary of this. They have been good about encouraging me when I was in between jobs, trying to lose those stubborn 20 pounds or just trying to do my best at work. They have come with me out on the walking trail, worked out with me (my own personal trainers) bought me workout clothes, running shoes, exercise bands, and a Weight Watchers scale. You name it, they are there to support and encourage. When I worked up the nerve to take two intense exercise classes back to back and as a result, had trouble walking the next day, I started feeling like maybe that was just too much for this frame. I shared these concerns. “No ma, that’s what you want!” Okay…back to class I go. They were so right. I am much stronger now because of it.
One of my greatest joy has to be when I get to share something that has happened in my professional life. Recently I received an acknowledgement at work. It was quite a surprise, but I quickly shared the good news with my 3. Inevitably the response I know I will get back from them is “Go Ma Go!”, which brings a huge grin to my face. The funny thing about it is, I feel as if while they were young, I needed to say that to myself on many occasions. Keep going Stephanie. These three little ones are depending on you.
Parents know that if you really plan to raise children well, you don’t have the luxury of stopping when you are tired. You have to keep going. Just like those two exercise classes, you will feel the strain/benefits of it later, but your children are depending on you to read that 8th bedtime story, stay up to study or proof their paper, run to the story at 6 a.m. to get the ink cartridge so they can print their paper before school or figure out how to open the computer and turn the oscillating fan on it so the computer cools, because the computer fan has stopped working…the night before a paper is due.
Now that they are working adults, they are so supportive of my adult dreams – encouraging me with my blog (and one day book), my photography and my constant pursuit of
It makes me think of Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – New Living Translation.
In those times when I think, Hey, I don’t have to push as hard now…I remember those eyes are still watching…and I keep going!