1. Patience. With a child who has suffered a traumatic history, I am having to learn to become far more patient than I ever was before. There is a Chinese proverb that says, "If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow." I strive to achieve that. Not easy when the boys appear to be taking turns to see who can push me over the edge of crazy first.
2. Have a sense of humor, especially about myself. If I can dress as a cow to get a free Chic-fil-A meal, then I am clearly someone who's not afraid to leave their dignity at the door.
3. Never be unwilling to admit when you're wrong. I have had to go to both boys and ask their forgiveness.
4. Messes can be cleaned up. While it's easier to just say, "No," it can be more of a bonding time to let them do some activity that makes a real mess (As long as they are willing to help me clean up afterwards).
5. I can't sing or dance, so do both as much, as loudly, and as wildly as I can around them.
6. What I do more often can influence them than what I say.
7. Never be afraid to let them see me cry. There's no shame in it.
8. There is real strength in tenderness. Jesus is a prime example of this.
9. Listen to them. I have had to learn to listen to not only what they are saying, but what they are meaning. I want them to be able to come to me no matter what.
10. Do something that they want to do, even if it's something that I have absolutely no interest in (sometimes this just means watching Cava work on his puzzle or listen to Benjamin talk about computers and electronics).
11. Spend time with them. I want my off-line life to be more full than my on-line one.
12. Strive to be respected, not feared.
13. Show affection.
14. They want my time more than they want more stuff (Although from how much they ask for things it's hard to see this). Be there for them.
15. I am raising them to be men and not grown children. There are too many men who don't want to be husbands and fathers these days.
16. Kids never want to talk to you so much as when you're on the phone - or replacing the garbage disposal (They don't put that in the instructions for installation, though).
17. Pray with them.
18. I love being with them. Many parents often appear to want to be around their children as little as possible, but I don't. I enjoy playing and spending time with them and their friends. I frequently hear, whenever I take my boys and their friends somewhere, "Wow, you're brave" or some remark about how "tiring" that is, but I don't see it that way. I don't see this time as a chore but as memories we will always have, even if that means they get to play on the largest indoor playground in the South, while I just sit on the bench and watch them. (Of course, I secretly wish I could be playing, too, as those long slides look awesome!)