I attended a 70th birthday party this past weekend, for my mother-in-law’s best friend. It was hosted by her two grown children, all her closest friends were invited, and it was a fancy affair held in a ballroom with all the pomp and circumstance. I didn’t think too much of the event initially – but I was actually surprised at how much it touched my heart and gave me some new ideas of how important it is to celebrate our loved ones – especially our parents – while they’re still alive and well.
As a quick background, the husband is currently very ill and his wife stays at home and looks after him. She’s quite possibly one of the sweetest and most sincere ladies you will ever meet and even though I only met her 7 years ago after marriage, she treats me like family. This lady, basically truly deserved all the loving that she got at this party. And when I thought about it – ALL our parents have in their own way struggled and sacrificed so much to get us where we are today. They deserve to be honored and celebrated. Right now.
In our society, we tend to write the most moving and beautiful eulogies when a person passes – and celebrate their life’s accomplishments and recognize them post-humously. That’s so ridiculous. What good does that do anybody? How about we let people know how amazed we are with their accomplishments when they can still feel proud about it? Why can’t we tell people how much we appreciate them and love them while they can still feel fulfilled by it?
Here are a few ideas for things you can do for your parents:
- At least call them once a week to check in on them and take interest in their lives. Every day is even better – but not everyone’s cup of tea. In between, send them texts or emails of encouragement for things they’re working on or just to tell them that you are missing them, thinking of them, or doing something that maybe they taught you their whole lives – and that you appreciate them for instilling that knowledge or those values in you. It’s corny – but guess what. Human beings love to feel loved. And people do need to hear this stuff as much as some of us pretend we don’t.
- Throw them a party! An anniversary party, mothers day, fathers day, grandparents day, birthday whatever! Get together all the people that they love and publicly celebrate them. They may get a little embarrassed by all the frills – but there will be so much joy in their heart and happiness beaming from their eyes.
- Make their lives easier. Literally. If you know something that they’re struggling with or need help with – take out time to go take care of it for them. For example, my mom cannot figure out for the life of her how to make space on her phone by saving photos/videos from her phone onto her laptop so she can delete them on her phone and make space. And pictures and videos of her grandkids are her LIFE – so this is a very sensitive issue. Her daily frustration and anxiety with possibly losing all those files in the process of trial and error were so evident – and step by step articles online and phone calls to Apple were not doing the trick. So one day my sister just sat down and did it for her. She showed her how she did it, but did everything from start to finish for her. And that was that. My mom was able to breathe easier and was able to resume her usual activities without this anxiety of her phone memory being full. It seems ridiculous, but giving mental relief to your parents is almost a duty. They spent their whole lives solving your problems and relieving your pain – you owe it to them to bring them peace of mind in their old age.
- Encourage them to achieve their dreams. Sometimes parents have to put their interests and wants on the back burner for the betterment of the family. If you are in a position to get your dad the car he has always wanted but could never put his funds toward before – then do it! If you’re able to sign your mom up for a class that she has always been interested in, but couldn’t pursue because she was busy raising kids – then do it! Your support is what they need to do these things – because parents forget how to be selfish over time. Spoil them a little. Or a lot. You’ll never regret spending on them – just as you never regret spending on your littles.
Although I love celebrating both Mothers and Fathers Days – parental appreciation shouldn’t just be reserved for two calendar days a year. As a mother of three little girls, I know how much it means to me when my daughters express their love to me. And they do it all the time… from pretend breakfasts in bed, to wanting to be “pretty” like me by wearing my jewelry, to not wanting to even watch a television show without my company. They show me their adoration all the time. And that amazing feeling and the reassurance it gives me NEVER gets old. It makes all my sacrifices and hard work for them sooooo worth it. So why do we stop showering our parents with hugs and kisses and simple expressions of love as they get older? We shouldn’t. We should learn a thing or two from our littles in how to make people feel special. No wonder grandparents adore their grandchildren more than their own kids!
So, throw the big fancy party for no reason, celebrate small accomplishments and joys, and frequently tell your parents how much they mean to you. You literally do not know what will happen in the next minute. Do you want to carry the regret in your heart for the rest of your life that you didn’t express these feelings when you still had a chance?