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Parenting is perhaps one of the most selfless acts of service we may be asked to perform in our lives. From the first food offered to our children from our own bodies, to guiding them in the journey toward self, we as parents, whether we are always conscious of it or not, are servants to the mental, physical and spiritual heath and well-being of the next generation. It is a huge undertaking in which we are asked (not always in so many words) to do things we would not ordinarily choose to do. Let’s face it, how many of us would choose to become intimate on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis with the contents of a dirty diaper?
Yet it is often when one least feels like serving that the impact and meaning of it becomes most apparent. I discovered this for myself one day when I badly needed a bath and some time to myself after a long day with my three children. Hadrian, my four-year-old son, insisted on joining me. After his fifth demand and tears not far away, his older sister entered the fray with an accusing glare. “I can’t believe you won’t let your own son have a bath with you.” Exhausted, defeated, I lifted the naked little fellow into the bath with me.
He immediately stood up, smiled victoriously and declared “I want a crown for Christmas because I am a king.” He was not kidding. He really meant it. He read the concern on my face. “But Mom, you don’t have to worry because I will not rule you and Dad.” I felt a wave of relief. If he were really ever King or say a CEO, he would be a fair, just ruler. But then, with even more conviction, he announced “You will just be my servants.”
I sunk further beneath the water, contemplating my own role in my little ruler’s view of his parents. Was I being too complicit in my service? Were his father and I giving him an unreal picture of how the world would treat him?
But my serious reflection was soon interrupted by two tiny little hands on my back. They were soapy, they were slippery and they were washing my back. Okay, perhaps this (not always simple) act of selflessly serving our children was in fact teaching them to lovingly do the same. There he was, my little King, quite naturally tending to his servant.
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