As parents, we try to inculcate values into our children. I don’t mean ensuring they support the same sports teams as you, or that they enjoy the same music as you. No, while both of these things would be nice hobbies to share, they are not essential. I mean those types of values that make our children decent people that we can be proud of and point to them with pride and say that one’s mine.
My mother-in-law passed away over 5 years ago. Don’t wait for any in law jokes. We got along just fine. She was loyal, supportive, and funny. My father-in-law, her husband, died nearly 15 years earlier. The two of them met later in life and were only blessed with 28 years together. From the way, she spoke it was so clear just how much she adored and appreciated her husband. Just two and a half months after my wife and I married, I lost my job. Some parents might have questioned their children’s decision. Can he support you? This never came up in conversation, and I am certain my mother-in-law never even thought it. When I was considering and ultimately decided to become a teacher, she was thrilled. She had been a teacher herself and assured me that I would be very good at it. She loved to hear stories from the classroom. It is always awkward when figuring out how to address your in-law. One day I simply asked her what should I call you. She smiled and said, “mother-out-law.” I snickered a bit while she laughed heartily at her own corny joke.
When my wife suggested that we participate in the pancreatic cancer walk to honor my mother-in-law’s memory, I was all for it. However what most piqued my interest in regards to the walk was the chance to have my children participate in it as well. The walk was only 1 mile and a short drive from our home. The walk gave my wife and I a chance to not only talk with our children about helping people, but it provided us a tangible method for doing so. Throughout the whole week leading up to the walk, we talked about what the wonderful thing that we were doing. While my older son was confused about why we had to give the money away that we raised, he was excited for the opportunity to bring in a mitzvah note to his teacher on Monday. I explained to the children on the drive to the walk, “This is a great thing we are doing. By doing this walk, we are helping people. I’m proud of you guys. You should be proud of yourselves.”
So, we had a productive day. We took a meaningful walk with over 500 other people, raised nearly $800 dollars for The Lustgarten Foundation, and my children got to learn what it means to give of oneself. I hope they retain some memory of this day, participate in many more charitable events, and I get to point to them with pride.