After spending the last few days caring for a sick infant, I realized something that I'm sure every parent of older children already knows... your kids will never really thank you for everything you did for them when they were little. Sure, they'll thank you for buying them that new action figure they wanted, or thank you when you let a friend stay over for the night. They might even thank you for sending them to that expensive college they were accepted to... but they'll probably never thank you for the countless sleepless nights you spent caring for them when they were young. They'll probably never thank you for sucking the snot out of their nose when they were sick just so they could breathe, or thank you for letting them sleep on your chest because it was the only comfortable position for them at the time. They'll probably never thank you for checking on them as they fell asleep to make sure they didn't kick the blanket off them self, or thank you for rubbing Vick's on their chest to try and help them feel better.
Having done all of this for Alli already (and she's not even 4 months old yet), I realized that I've never really thanked my parents for all they did for me when I was little. Of course, my parents have never really told me everything they did for me... probably because there's too much to remember. And, I have a feeling that most parents probably don't mention it because they don't want to give their child a guilt trip and make them feel like they will always be indebted to their parents.
All of this hit me this morning as I was doing some Mr. Fix-it chores around the house. Mommy B's sink was draining a little slow (anyone who's ever lived with a female understands why) so I took the liberty of unhooking the stopper and removing it so I could extract the small animal from the drain. Mommy B expressed her gratitude that I was able to resolve the situation so quickly and easily (even though it didn't seem that way to her). It was at that moment I realized where I learned to accomplish such a task... my parents. Specifically, my dad.
Anyone who has ever spent any significant amount of time with my father will learn a few obvious things about him. He's big (he is known as Big Meibs), loud (duh, look at the last name), good-looking (for a grandpa in his 50's) and he can fix anything. And when I say anything, I mean an-y-thing. From putting together a bicycle to changing the oil in our cars to building a house (from the footers to the rafters). There I go, using construction terminology in a blog post - but that's what you get from growing up with sawdust in your shoes. What's even more astounding is that this man did it all right in front of my very eyes, without ever cracking an instruction manual. It was simply amazing to watch sometimes...
Growing up as a (middle) child, I was a very observant little kiddo. I spent a lot of time hanging around my dad when he was demolishing, building, or fixing things around our house. I don't know if he realized at the time exactly how much I was taking in, and maybe I didn't either. But lo and behold, over a decade later I can still remember how to properly straddle ceiling joists. Thanks to him, I too can change the oil in both our cars, repair a screened-in porch, patch drywall, pour concrete, fix a sink, change a tire, landscape a yard, use any tool in a garage and operate just about any piece of heavy machinery. Heck, there are millions of people out there who don't even know the difference between a socket wrench and an impact wrench (hint: one of them uses compressed air!) Needless to say, my siblings and I never had to go very long with something being broken. Whether it was our favorite toy that needed fixing or a whole 2nd story added to our house so us kids could each have our own room, Pops was the man for the job.
There are a hundred other things I've learned just by watching him work, but I can't possibly list them all. My dad taught me more than just how to use my hands, he taught me how to use my head as well. Both of my parents did that, actually. Any halfway-decent parent can tell you that parenting is more than just what you can do with your hands... but what you can do with your heart too.
I guess what I'm really trying to say is Thank you, Mom & Dad. Thank you for not only caring for me when I was little, but for teaching me what it takes to do the same for my child. Of course I love little Alli with everything I have, but thanks to my parents I'm going to be able to fix anything of her's that's broken - whether that's her little dolly or her heart. I just hope that she'll learn as much from me as I learned from my parents...