There was a blog post making the rounds of social media recently titled “We only have 18 summers with our kids.” It was about how we only have a limited amount of time to spend with our children before they fly the proverbial coop. How we only have 18 summers for family trips, daily activities and all sorts of ways to make sure our children have fond memories for the rest of their lives. How we needed to cherish those 940-odd summer Saturdays and soak it all in.
I read it, and I started to panic.
My children are 9 and 13. The past two years, especially, have been hard on me as a mother to my daughter. As she reached her pre-teen years and then turned 13, it all changed. One day, she just stopped calling me Mommy. I got eye rolls more than hugs. She started spending more time in her room, texting with friends. My 9-year-old son remains a cuddle bug and still likes to hold my hand, but my daughter … I feel her slipping away a little more each day. Sometimes,
it seems like she just doesn’t need me as much.
So I was already feeling a bit insecure when I read that blog post, and that’s when the thoughts kicked into high gear: ohmygoodnesshaveIdoneenough?
Have the summer vacations to the beach been enough? Have I filled their days with enough fun activities? Have we been to the zoo enough? How about museums? Is the one trip to Disney World going to suffice? I still haven’t taken them on a plane, or to a Broadway show, or out of the country, or, or … and then I reminded myself to take a deep breath.
I’m not doing anything wrong. I haven’t done anything wrong. My children aren’t going to suffer if they never make it back to see Mickey Mouse. Actually, you know what? They wouldn’t be suffering if they hadn’t ever been to Disney World in the first place. They are clothed (better than I am!) and have a roof over their heads. They have more than I ever did at their age. And most importantly, they know they’re loved. I tell and show them all the time.
As parents, we’re all doing the best we can. And if the best we can do some days is to just get by, then that’s OK, too. Our days don’t have to be filled with daily trips to the park and climbing trees with our kids — it’s perfectly acceptable to shoo them out the door and tell them to find some adventures. The truth is, none of us is really promised one more summer or one more Saturday or even one more day. That’s why it’s so important to live in the now, in the today, to embrace each day for what it brings and to see the special in the simple.
Don’t already have big summer plans? In this month’s Health Journal, we offer up a list of fun, easy things to do with your children before the summer is over. Some are as simple as watching the sunrise or searching for sea glass on the beach. Maybe we’ve given you a few ideas to try, such as building a movie screen in your driveway. But maybe not. Maybe you’re having the kind of summer where you’re just taking it day by day, not planning anything, and that’s fine. Enjoy that time, too. The other day, my daughter came down from her room, sat next to me on the couch and asked for a hug, and then we spent a few hours binge-watching one of our favorite guilty pleasure TV shows.
I’ll take that.