Marilyn Rockhold, who I affectionately nicknamed Mama Rock, is the mom of my junior high and high school BFF, Valerie. I spent much time at their house growing up, along with Valerie's THREE older sisters! So when I think "mom of girls", Mama Rock is one of my first thoughts. I saw her in action and I've seen the results of her fabulous mom skills in the lives of all four sisters grown up! She is among the first I approached to ask "the 5 things she's glad she did raising girls".
First, I must reminisce. When I think of fun times at Valerie's house, I think of the green tapioca pudding or the homemade Orange Julius drinks we made every time I spent the night. I think of Valerie's 1976 Mercury wood paneled station wagon that we drove on the weekends, a car that skipped radio stations every time we hit a bump, but we just as quickly switched our song as we sang along! Mama Rock hosted get togethers at her house quite often for us. Her sister Janet and I both share a Halloween birthday and we knew we were both TREATS and not TRICKS! I think of the time Papa Rock drove Valerie, Janet and I to Hutchinson, KS for a weekend retreat, but an hour down the road Janet discovered she'd forgotten her curling iron. Being a dad of 4 girls in the 80's, he knew the gravity of the situation and the undeniable need to return home for it, but that doesn't mean he was happy about it! When he said with very mild controlled “fury”, "I'm just so mad I could SPIT", we hysterically giggled in silent vibrations and uncontrollable laughter in the backseat for a good long while! Because as calm as his anger was, that was really mad for sweet Papa Rock! Yes, he took us all the way home for the curling iron. They are good people.
Ok, so now for “substance”. When I asked Mama Rock the 5 things she's glad she did in raising her girls, here is what stood out to her. (This was prefaced by "it was all in spite of me and by the grace of God". I made her come up with practical pass-on-able tidbits!!)
1. I am glad we taught respect for authority and obedience at an early age (right off the bat, one year old and up). If you wait until they are tweens, it's too late. Now they respect God and His authority, as well as the law, their parents, teachers, etc.
2. I am glad we required them to do household chores because they learned how to keep house and to do their share as members of a family. (I can attest to this fact when my own girls and I visited Janet's family of (7children) in Kansas City in recent years. It was like a well oiled machine- every person did their part happily, without a parent having to beg and no one complained. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I mentally scribbled notes, wondered what in the world I had done wrong and said to my kids "DO YOU SEE THIS?!?!?!" Sorry for my extra comments there, couldn't help it.)
3. I am glad we kept an "open house" for their friends, because we got to know their friends and they got to know us. Have as many activities in your home as possible. We wanted the girls and their friends to feel welcome anytime. Because of this we would know if there was trouble anywhere and they would be less likely to go astray.
4. I am glad we made family time a priority via meals together, going to church together, watching TV together, etc. Family should come first after God- and that includes extended family too. Having a good husband/wife relationship and agreement between the two (at least in front of the kids) is very important too.
5. I am glad we did not wait "until they were old enough" to teach these things but started at a young age, because if a child is left to herself she brings shame to her Mother. Proverbs 29:15
To sum it up, she said teenage years can be scary and there are some really hard times, but she found them to be so much more fun than she expected. Mama Rock and Papa Rock are now the proud grandparents of a whopping 25 wonderful grandchildren and one grand-son-in-law !! Grandkids range in age from 25 years to 3 months; thirteen girls and 12 boys.
Afterwards, I couldn't help but bring up the subject of her working as a nurse while raising kids, since she didn't mention it. I remember her often being in her nurse uniform, coming to and from work late at night, wondering why we were coloring our tapioca pudding green. Her thoughts on the subject: "Nursing was the only job I was ever interested in, even as a child. I was never interested in having a career or climbing the career ladder. My family was my first priority and my job came second. I just worked part time in order to help with family finances, college,weddings, etc. I'm very proud that two of my granddaughters are RN's also. It's fun to be able to "talk shop" with them. When my granddaughter Abigail's class recited the Nightingale Pledge, all the RN's in the audience were asked to join them, I was very proud to be able to do that. I'm very grateful for all the nursing experiences I've had."
Coming tomorrow, insights from all four now grown up Rockhold sisters! Stay tuned, it's fun because what they appreciate is all so varied. Thanks to Mama Rock for being willing to share her thoughts with us. Their entire family is a great example to many people. I'm glad to know them.