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A mother's tribute to her children

I have little sympathy for people who say, "Children owe so much to their parents." I beg to differ. Mym children owe me nothing. Yes, their father and I have provided for them: food, clothing, shelter, and education. To do these things we've done without wall-to-wall carpeting and a second car, but we've enjoyed infinitely greater returns. The children have contributed just as much to our family enrichment as we have.

They have given us an active interest in our community. As citizens we do more than pay taxes or complain about the garbage collection. Our city government and facilities, our civic associations, and our school board elections are of personal concern to us as parents. We participate in school organizations, community youth programs, and in church work.

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Sometimes it isn't enthusiasm for the project that motivates us, but rather our desire to be a credit to our children. Or perhaps we do our share simply because the youngsters volunteer ourm services so freely. Of course we'll be delighted to house 12 Girl Scouts for a slumber party! And please don't hesitate to call on us to chauffeur a group of young people any place at any time. These are privileges allotted to parents.

Not all of the accompaniments of parenthood have been pleasurable, I'll admit. There have been heartaches, but we have survived them and become stronger and warmer in the process. Just as our kisses and love have helped their bruises, their faith and love have nullified our frustrations and disappointments.

We are not too aware of aging because our children have given us back a bit of our youth. What a joy to reread with a child "Charlotte's Web" or "The Wizard of Oz"! We listen with nostalgic pleasure to familiar camping tunes that are still going the rounds of the campfires our children attend.

Our children have provided refresher courses in education. My husband has brushed up on his algebra and science. I've been exposed to rewarding discussions of history and literature. Whether we like it or not, we've been made aware of current trends in music and literature. The latest rock and roll may not appeal to us, but at least we know what's going on. And because my daughters are hep to vogues in the fashion world, I am better groomed and garmented under their tutelage.

We have been given pleasure in the accomplishments of our children, whether these be scribbles in crayon, achievement awards, or graduation diplomas. We have glowed through public performances convinced that our child is the star. Our pride in the youngsters has been matched by their pride in us. We have overheard them bragging about our mediocre achievements, and their esteem has given us new ambition and incentive. We are humbly grateful.

We've been saved from boredom and loneliness by our children. The constant ringing of the telephone and the doorbell, the blare of the television, the hubbub of giggles and arguments mean that there are very few quiet times in our household. This is a situation that I sometimes deplore, but I realize that even confusion has its compensations.

Parents are constantly preaching and prodding in their efforts to instill in their children ideals and standards to guide their futures. It hasn't been all teaching on our part; we've done a lot of learning. While we have offered our youngsters the wisdom of our experience, from them we have assimilated the wisdom of youth. In their disregard for race and religious distinctions, they have taught us the validity of forbearance. We have learned to listen sympathetically and to make compromises because of the peer pressures on our children. Only by keeping communication open can we hope to have them accept the guidance we offer.

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For the sake of our children we have had to develop new strengths.We parents are responsible to a great extent for our children's attitudes, and so our own must be mature. We must practice self-discipline in order to enforce the parental discipline that is so vital to the stability of the home and the security of its occupants. We've learned not to take every development too seriously.

While I feel they owe us nothing, our children have provided heartwarming evidences of appreciation through the years. They have given me breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. They have washed the car to surprise their father. They have also saved and sacrificed to give us material things, for the giving and receiving of presents means much to the child. Cheap perfume for me and cheap aftershave lotion for my husband have represented thought and loving planning.

What finer tribute could our son have paid his dad than to voice as his ambition, "When I grow up I want to be a father -- just a plain old father." His plain old father felt definitely less plain and less old at that moment.

Our children have repaid our care and affection in both words and deed throughout the years. Truly, they owe us nothing.

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