Here’s the latest pic of kids 1-3, though they might actually die from parental humiliation if they see that I shared this. But it won’t be the first “death by mom” – as they seem to have endless lives to be embarrassed by my love again and again.
I know I say it all the time – I guess that’s how my brain is trying to digest the truth – but it seems like just weeks ago that they were little guys and we were hauling around strollers, and sippy cups, and all that jazz just to leave the house. My husband has selective kid memory and is always asking how young parents get it all done. Just like we did, I guess. It’s just that time has taken the pressure off the parents and given lots more responsibility to the kids. So now we have time to sit back and watch all the gear packing parents taking toddlers everywhere in a moving van and leaving us with vague, yet fond, memories of it all.
And because of exactly that, this summer (and even for months before when school was still in) I really had to take a firm stand about our time and the use of it as shared with others and events and commitments. I had to find a way to say, “no”.
So I started small by completing my volunteer responsibilities and passing on the next year’s commitment to someone else. I resigned as the PTA president and decided that my impact on my kids at home has a million pounds more weight to it than organizing meals for teachers. Then I started saying no to extra work and extra activities for the kids, and even most social occasions. Which has marked, for the time anyway, the Walters’ bunch as either freakish or anti-social. I’d like to think we’re neither. Though it’s possible we’re both.
But looking at how big these kids are and how time is flying by, it’s my job as a parent to make the best decisions possible regarding our time. And mostly, our time together. It is fleeting – and fleeting so darn fast I can’t even chase it anymore.
For you fire wives out there like me, maybe we’re the only ones that can completely understand this. But duty calls us away from our time together every third day, or more, for a lifetime. I think it’s funny how people imagine so much relaxing spare time for firemen on their off days. When really, most of it is sleeping, or working extra jobs, or catching up on the house stuff that fell apart when they were gone the shift before. When you – we – total the number of hours worked and spent away from the family during a typical work week, it adds up to a 72 hour work week all by itself – that’s with no overtime, no hire-backs, no subs,… no special event jobs, just the 24 hour shifts as they roll around. This week Fireman Dave worked 136 hours, which means I did too. He puts out the fires around town, and I put them out at home. And of course every year there are the holidays apart, the birthdays delayed, and many years when Santa had to come on a specially-scheduled fireman day so daddy wouldn’t miss the fun…again. We’ve been on this crazy schedule as a family for the last 18 years; with a lifetime career of the same ahead.
So yes, we guard our time together fiercely. We don’t do it because we don’t like you. We do it because we love each other more. It is an important lesson that I have taught over and over to these kids for years.
I guess I’m writing this now as a reminder to myself on my priorities–at the beginning of the school year before I start signing up for everything. My time with the boys is almost up. They’re turning into men, with their own lives and commitments. And I’ve decided to grab hold of every second while I can.
I just think that a few well-placed no’s can add up to a whole lot more time for the important yes’s that can mean so much.