With my children returning to school earlier this month, I have been reflecting on their childhood experiences and what kind of role model I am to them. I have also been reflecting on one of the important role models I had during my childhood - my Nan. She has been on my mind a lot as I am in the final stages of training for a half marathon that I will be running in her memory.
The important role that my Nan played in my life goes back to when my parents divorced when I was about five and I then lived with my Dad, sister and Grandparents. It was an incredibly difficult time as I struggled to get to grips with not living with Mum, who I saw regularly, but missed terribly. My Grandparents surrounded me with so much love and support that I will always be thankful for the values they instilled in me during those impressionable years of my life and that make me who I am today.
Earlier this year my Nan sadly passed away and I was honoured to be able to read a poem at her funeral that I had written. The poem reflects on the many wonderful memories my sister and I had of her and the values that will live on in us and that I hope to pass onto my children.
1. Work hard for things you need
Even after they officially retired my Grandparents continued to work hard. They showed me that you get out of life what you put in and that you need to be able to provide for yourself and for your family. I have grown up with strong work ethic and have never expected others to support me financially. Since having children I have suffered with the dreaded working Mum’s guilt and the never-ending battle of juggling work and family life. Even with those challenges, working is important to me and now that the children are a bit older, I am able to explain to them that if Mummy (and Daddy!) don’t work then the bills don’t get paid which has consequences. I recently gave them some examples of the bills and they were shocked to learn that we had to pay for the water in the taps and were scared by not having electricity and not being able to watch the TV! They also understand that working means that we get to do nice things like going for a meal, a day out, or a holiday. I am already teaching them that to have these things you need to work.
2. Love with all your heart & know there is always enough love to share
Nan had four children, many grandchildren and many more great grandchildren and she showed all of us so much love. Her house was the central point where I remember aunts, uncles and cousins popping in and Nan was always ready to make a cup of tea, feed us with cakes and chat! Loving other people is probably what Nan did best. I always knew she was there for me whether it be to talk, for cuddles or sharing happy moments. She helped me through some difficult parts of my childhood and gave me the chance to explore my emotions in a safe and non-judgemental environment. This is exactly the sort of home that I try and create for my children. I always take time to ask them how they are feeling, find out what’s made them happy or sad and encourage them to talk about anything that is troubling them.
3. It costs nothing to be kind & don’t ever be consumed with greed
In today’s materialist society we can all easily be sucked into believing that possessions matter and that they somehow make you a better person. I have had times when I have fallen into this trap thinking ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have a bigger house - newer car - luxurious holiday’ – the list could go on. Of course, there is a certain amount of pleasure these things bring, but how long does that last before we are then wanting more? Where does it stop? Why can’t we just be content with what we have? I know that my Nan was content with that she had, she was never greedy and often put others needs before her own.
4. Try to face each day with a smile
I rarely saw my Nan in a bad mood. I am sure she had low days but they must have been in the minority. She had a lot of difficult things to deal with at various points in her life, yet she always tried to stay positive and find the good in situations. As an adult, I want to be surrounded by supportive and positive people and I am so grateful that during my childhood I had such a shining example of that. I am very conscious of the impact that my mood and the language that I use around the children has on them and want to role model a positive attitude.
These are just a handful of the values that have been transferred down to me and I hope will transfer down for many more generations. Values are so important in our lives. They are what motivate us and influence how we interact with the world around us. So why not take a few moments to consider what values are most important to you and where they have come from.
I have a fundraising page for the Half Marathon that I am running in my Nan’s memory.
Any donations, however big or small, are gratefully received