I’ve seen this meme doing the rounds on social media and it sort of jarred with me a bit. I get the sentiment; be grateful for the present and enjoy the moment but it just speaks a bit to me of guilt and pressure I guess. What about when you’re wondering how to manage the next 18 minutes let alone the next 18 years!!
Here’s my thoughts having reached the end of those 18 summers.
Some summers I had activities all planned, others I worked and depended on grandparents, one was spent mainly in hospital, a couple we were skint so ‘fun activities’ were mud pies in the garden. My girls survived them all.
We decided to do one thing well every summer. We’ve holidayed at the same place for 14 years and cultivated family hobbies around that. It’s become a big rock in our family rhythms. Even if it’s a day that stays the same every year or a weekend, make a family tradition. It’s what memories are made of.
Children have different definitions of successful summers than we do. Did we laugh more than we cried together? Did we bend the rules on sweets and bedtimes? Did we do something something outrageous for the sheer joy of it?
It takes a village to raise a child. Find your village and ask for help. Team tag childcare, commiserate over gin. Whatever it takes. We’re in this together.
18 years aren’t all you get. My girls are still here, hanging out with us, coming on holiday with us. It’s different; we’re friends, debaters, encouragers. We share each other’s joys and challenges and we’re a team. This stage was hard won but it’s worth it. I’m grateful for what I had but I’m grateful for what I have now too, for what was and what is just beginning.
Please don’t live in fear of ‘losing your children’ to adulthood. It changes but it’s beautiful too.
Lastly, to my girls who occasionally read what I write:
I love you with every fibre of my being. I didn’t enjoy every single moment of your childhood. And that’s okay.