Today I am thankful for my parents (To be clear, I am abundantly thankful for my parents every day, but today, I am officially announcing it on the World Wide Web. ;-)
I might be a wee bit biased, but I really do believe that I won the "Awesome Parents Jackpot" when I was born. :-) My sister and I have been blessed with parents who have been truly present, involved, and genuinely invested in us and in our lives.
Some of my earliest memories are of building Lincoln Log forts and having tea parties with my dad. I remember him doing "The Face," where my mom helped him paint an upside-down face on his own, and he would hang upside-down over our bed and put on a little show for us. I remember thinking that I was a celebrity when I was young because my parents were in charge of Children's Church.
As we grew older and became involved in more and more extracurricular activities, my parents were always there supporting us and cheering us on. I can't remember a single Band concert, competition, home football game, parade, etc. that they didn't attend. My mom went to more Band Camps than either Christy or I did as she was a sponsor almost every year that we were in band!
My parents made our home "the place to be." I can't remember a day when someone wasn't hanging out at our house. Everyone knew where "the junk food corner" was and that anything in that corner was fair game. I even remember coming home after leaving for college to find old high school friends visiting my parents! To this day, our childhood and high school friends still claim them as their own "Mama & Papa Stud." I actually think my parents are FB friends with more of our growing up crowd than we are! ;-)
Over the past several years, my appreciation for my mom and dad has grown even more. I honestly don't think that I would be a foster mom right now if it wasn't for their support. My mom has sat through endless foster care training classes with me in order to be my lone respite care provider. She has done her best to be available for those times when I desperately need a sitter. When I broke my leg, she moved in with me and Booger for a month and a half in order to take care of both of us! Without my mom's hands-on help and support and my dad's patience and understanding when I steal her away, I know I wouldn't have had the opportunity to ever be a mom.
My parents are amazing grandparents to my kids, even knowing that the chances are they won't be in our lives permanently. At a recent foster/adopt conference, they talked about how the single most important factor in giving foster or adopted children a true sense of belonging in their extended family lies in how the grandparents accept and include them. I can honestly say that my kiddos feel just as loved and included as my nieces and nephews. Nearly two years after Booger Bear left my home, he still calls my parents "Nana and Papa" and thinks of them as his grandparents. The fact that my mom and dad open their hearts to my kids means the world to me. I know how difficult it is to love these kids and to watch them leave over and over again. I also know that I am the one who signed up for this. My parents didn't. They don't have to treat my children the same way they treat my nieces and nephews, but they love me enough to love my kids as much as I do. Their love for my kids means just as much to me as their love for me...
So today... like every day of my life... I am thankful that I have been blessed with the most amazing parents on the planet. I love them very, very much, and I pray every day that I continue to have opportunity to try to be the kind of parent to my kiddos that they have been to me.