As an elementary school educator, I have always looked forward to summer. No alarm clock, no schedule. Plenty of lazy days and lots of down time. A time to get refreshed and geared up for another amazing school year. Then I became a mom and summer turned into quite the opposite of what I was accustomed to. I now have two human alarm clocks, no down time and unless I want to run out of the house screaming at the end of the day, I better have some fun activities planned.
I recently read the book: Just 18 Summers, written by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox. In this inspiring novel, four families in four different stages of life, learn to appreciate the time they have with their children before they are grown and gone. I was initially drawn to this novel because of the final sentence from the blurb: “With just eighteen summers before their children are grown, how will they make the most of that time when life so often gets in the way?” I quickly did the math and realized that even though my children are still young, the summer years will quickly pass. I realized that I needed to make every day of the summer count!
I often spend my summer days trying to figure out a way to “get the boys out of my hair”, so I was determined to finish this book before school was out, hoping that it would give me the motivation that I needed. After reading the book, I knew that I wanted this summer to be different. I want to use these precious weeks to enjoy the company of my boys and discover new things together. I want to truly get to know my boys and appreciate their unique personalities and gifts.
Does this mean that I intend for each summer to be a magical experience for my kids? That I’m turning my house into their very own personal amusement park? Will my children live out their summers as guests on a home based cruise ship where I serve as their personal cabin steward and entertainment director?
Absolutely not. But what it does mean is this:
- I will sit down at the breakfast table and eat a bowl of cereal with them in morning. While eating, I will look at them and talk to them (sans cell phone) instead of turning on a cartoon for them to watch.
- I will get off the park bench to watch my three-year-old go down the slide. I will help my five-year-old cross the monkey bars. I will tell them how super awesome they both are and I will mean it.
- I will join them in the backyard as they hunt for rocks. I will help them gather sticks to use in a sword fight. I will participate in the sword fight and I will dutifully fall on the grass and play dead when they beat me.
- I will pull out the cards and board games. I will let them create the rules and tell me how to play instead of insisting that they play it the right way.
- I will not get frustrated at their two-minute attention span while playing said board games.
- I will humbly squeeze into my bathing suit and enthusiastically get into the pool with them instead of monitoring from the sideline.
- I will say yes to bike rides. I will play cars. I will let them push the grocery cart. I will allow them to help make dinner. I will read one more bedtime story and I will stay just a little bit longer to snuggle them to sleep.
Sounds like a lofty goal? For sure. Exhausting? Of course. But for me, it is worth it. These goals serve as a compass for the direction that I intend to go when choosing how I spend my time this summer. And most importantly, when summer is over, I want to continue this connection in the midst of trying to balance out busy lives with what matters most. Truth be told, we don’t know if we have just 18 summers. What we do know is that we have today. So let us make today count.
For more information about the novel, Just 18 Summers, as well as tips for making memories that last, visit http://just18summers.com/.