I feel like every time I turn around someone is telling me to do more with all of these Saturdays. Summers. Days. Hours. Minutes.
I know it’s going fast. It paralyzes me. I’ve known it since the day each of them were born. I may have not always know the exact numbers. But I’ve always known the clock was ticking.
We have been trapped and tricked by this well meaning notion that we need a countdown to their legal independence from us. These posts, printables, and quotes admonishing us about what we have left with our children. The moments we can’t miss. They inevitably lead to frustration about the moments WE WILL MISS. Because we will ALL miss things.
Newsflash: We will ALWAYS be their mothers.
And motherhood will ALWAYS be changing.
That clock is still ticking away while the kids are at school. While you’re cooking dinner. While you’re sleeping. While the bills need paying. While LIFE IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Even though there are “20 Countries Your Kids Must See Before They Grow Up” and “17 Books They Have To Read Before They Are 12” and “42 Popsicles You Must Make This Summer”.
This mentality that we’ve bought into, this thing where we’ve decided it’s our job to make their lives magical in order for all of this to count, this ever growing “bucket list” we’re inventing for childhood and parenting — this is the thing that makes life even harder when life is LIFE.
That Pinterest bucket list might not happen. You might not squeeze in every single vacation in that pre-determined 18 summers you THINK you have. Life might happen. Actually, life WILL happen. You will get distracted. Things may not work out how you planned. You will have to recalibrate. THEY will have to recalibrate.
Our lives don’t need to be Pinterest worthy and Instagram ready. They will be messy and run off course.
Here’s what focusing on the countdown clock really does:
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It creates guilt.
It creates frustration.
It creates panic.
It creates unrealistic expectations.
The truth is, life will go on. We will all adjust. We will find happiness and time and family wherever we choose to find it. Whether they are 2 or 23 or 40.
We spend 9 months carrying these little people. For the first few months of their life we carry them in our arms. And then bit by bit we have to learn to let them do things by themselves. To let them go. Bit by bit.
To sit. To stand. To walk. To run. And finally to fly and to leave us.
All of this change stretches us, sometimes beyond what we think our hearts can bear.
That’s the stuff that we’ve got to work on. That balance between holding on and letting go. Let’s always work on being present. But let’s get better about letting go. Being able to constantly adjust to the ever changing state of parenting. That’s the real work.
Holding on to those 18 summers, 940 Saturdays, 9,460,800 like that’s all the parenting we have is counterintuitive to the real work we have to do as parents.
Let’s stop counting. Let’s start breathing. Adjusting to what life will throw at us. Flexible enough to let go of these expectations, these Pinterest boards, these countdowns that are actually just as distracting as whatever might have been distracting us from being present in the first place.
I’m done counting. I’ll just be working on being.