I believe strongly in the value of hard work. My mom taught me a lot about that. My girls just got back from spending a week with my mom, or “Camp Gigi” as we like to call it. As soon as we buckled them in our car to take them home, they exclaimed, “mommy, Gigi told us you were a country girl!” Yes, I was and still am.
Growing up, we didn’t have much. What I lacked in the latest clothes or toys, I had more than enough of interesting life experiences. I learned a lot about responsibility through taking care of my family and our numerous animals. And, I’m not talking just about dogs and cats. I grew up with horses, goats, chickens, snakes, hedgehogs, rabbits, fish, African jungle cats, geese, miniature horses and of course, dogs and cats.
With all of these animals came a lot of responsibility. Feeding and caring for all of them required many hours of hard work. My sister and I would divide and conquer to ensure that we completed our daily chores, before and after school.
I’m grateful for those experiences. I had to work hard for many of the joys in my life. If I wanted to go for a ride with one of our horses, I had to brush them, saddle them, and clean their feet, and then there was even more work when I was done with my ride. Cleaning stalls and cages, feeding and taking care of animals healthy and sick, brought me life experiences that most children don’t encounter. So, even though I didn’t have a lot of luxuries growing up, all of these experiences were a luxury to me.
While I was growing up, I don’t think I understood the value of this work as much as I do now. I see how it has shaped me and given me skills of persistence, commitment, dedication and tenacity that have all proven to be incredibly beneficial in my life.
I want the same for my daughters. Although I don’t own all the animals that I grew up with, my girls have Camp Gigi, and I’m grateful. I have a new challenge in front of me: how to teach my girls about the power and importance of hard work…even in the smallest of things. For example, my daughters came home with fresh eggs. My oldest really wanted to cook them herself. At first, I objected. I thought to myself, “she’s seven, she’s too young to do this.” I pushed my worries aside and let my husband teach her to cook eggs all by herself. And, she did. For three days in a row, I’ve eaten eggs she’s cracked, beaten, scrambled and served to me. I can’t get enough of her delicious eggs and the pride she takes in doing something so grown up, independently by herself.
You see, reflecting on my childhood has brought to light three things I want to teach my daughters: to take care of themselves, to work hard for what they want, and to understand that it takes hard work to achieve your dreams. We may be starting small with cleaning rooms and cooking eggs, but we are starting somewhere.
Hard work is an important value to teach, and life presents opportunities every day to show our children the power of hard work. Are you taking advantage of these opportunities, and how are you doing it?