During the summer months, you may feel extra frustrated with your kids as you spend more time together as a family. No doubt sibling rivalry isn’t a fun ride, nor is nagging about chores or getting off the video game console.
But if you and I can step back to gain perspective, it will make the summer months much sweeter. When you’re old and gray, you will remember these years with your kids as the wonder years. As you survey your life, you may conclude that these child-raising years are the best of all.
I remember years ago while shopping in the toy section of a store, a woman took one look at my adorable one-year-old daughter who had hair as thick as a lion’s mane. I couldn’t believe what happened next. She muttered, “It all goes downhill from there” as our shopping carts passed. I wondered how that statement made her kids feel. They were just steps behind her.
I wish I had the quick wit to reply, “Actually, baby Lucy has two older siblings and I’ve found it just gets better and better!” But the moment passed. The stranger went on to her shopping but her words stayed with me. I was struck not only by her negativity but with the realization that many parents feel like that mom. They’re waiting for the next bad thing to happen – the terrible twos, the bullies of elementary school, the weirdness of junior high or the angst of high school. Meanwhile, the moment by moment wonder of childhood isn’t being enjoyed; it’s being endured.
It’s easy to look forward to the next “easier stage” of parenting (and the beginning of the school year!). We must practice being present in the moment, and realize the time we have with our growing children is indeed precious.
When my son Ethan was in elementary school, I went to his school on his birthday to sit with him at lunchtime and bring him a favorite meal to eat. It was our yearly tradition. We’d chat and laugh together, and I’d talk to his friends. He even kissed me on the cheek until about fourth grade. When Ethan became a middle schooler, I asked him if he’d like me to come to school to bring him lunch on his birthday. “No, that’s okay mom,” he replied. I wasn’t offended because most middle school boys don’t want their mommies coming to hang out at lunchtime! But I was certainly glad I had many years of lunches together when he was younger.
If you feel trapped eating Lunchables with your child or tripping over Legos all day, remind yourself the day will come when the toys are gone and your kids are grown. I think you’ll miss the clutter and commotion then. I know I will.
The Bible says in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We only have so many days to love and train our children while they are home. We have 18 summers to make an impact. Let’s make sure to make the most of this one.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What’s Right. and Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life. Learn more at ArlenePellicane.com.