On the heels of the first day of school for so many of our kids there seems to be an awful lot of lamenting and bittersweetness floating around. Summer is still here but the one we knew with less schedules and no school is over. I saw the strongest moms crying today. Dang. No matter how confident a parent you are there is inevitably a time (or 999,000,000 times) you’ll ask yourself if you did enough this summer. Did you make enough memories, did you listen to them enough while answering those work emails, did you have enough play dates, did you take enough photos, did you did you did you..and wait – oh crap you never even got to the beach! What kind of monster are you?
Did you do enough? If you’re worried about it you probably did. Parenthood, man. It ain’t for wimps. Having had my son at 42 I’d spent half my life not getting that. I didn’t realize the superpowers you have to dig for and sometimes be surprised by when they come naturally. There are a ton of challenges we face and your child’s lightening speed transformation (and the questioning that goes along with it) is just one of them.
The end of Summer tends to make us take stock. We compare the kids’ 1st day of school photos from last and this year, bewildered by how much they’ve grown. My son will turn five in a few months and the constant elongating of his limbs is an in my face reminder of how fleeting time is. I search for evidence of long gone wrist and thigh rolls or a double chin. I listen carefully to him speak hoping for the remanence of a baby word here and there. I wait for him to reach out or call me when he’s stuck on the monkey bars.
He doesn’t need me like he used to. They say that means I’m doing my job right.
But you know. As much as I feel the tug on my heart strings about those sweet baby years (and some of that shit was hard, I’m not even pretending), he’s showing us more and more who he is as he gets older. And I really like him. It’s not just because he’s my kid either.
He still has all of his sweetness with endless kisses, hugs and snuggling demands. He has a countless new ideas as his world view gets bigger. And bigger. So. Many. Ideas. And he articulates them all. Some of my favorite moments with him are when we walk and talk and getting to know him as he learns about himself is such an incredible gift. I watch his face as he tries to read and write, the center of his brow crinkling like mine. I see him on the playground, making friends with new kids, helping the little ones up when they fall, and playing fort and creating secret missions in the shade of the big slide.
And so starts another Fall and with it will come more growth. You think the summer was a blur wait till you see how fast the holidays get here. (I know, you’re welcome.) Between back to school night, dance, gymnastics, soccer, karate.. we’ll be putting away decorations and crying about how the holidays flew by. Get a tissue and pull yourself together! Jeez.
Look, I’m not a veteran mom with a trunk of expertise. I’m just a woman who follows her gut and supports other moms. So here are a few things I am keeping in mind in case the back to the grind blues set in:
1. There is no badge for busy. Seriously. No one wants to hear about how busy you are. You created that monster, so you tame it. And your kids? They don’t need to get dragged into that either. Manage it or drop something. This is your one life. Enjoy it.
2. (Really 1a) Get a morning ritual. Even if you have to get up at 5:30am to beat your kids to the punch (I’m talking to me over here) get your butt out of bed and walk for 30. I am also a huge believer in mediation. No music. No phone. Nada. Clear your mind and set your intention for the day. Think about where you want to aim that energy of yours and watch in manifest. It’s a beautiful thing and you will feel so much more centered.
3. A stark reminder. There are parents who have lost their children and would give anything to see their kids off to school. How many of us know people who have lost children or almost lost them? It’s easy to get caught up in our feelings. But in honor of the kids who aren’t here, let’s celebrate the kids who are and their milestones.
4. Be softer with your kids. I cannot remember the last time I yelled at my son and it improved a dang thing. It just left us feeling badly. Yes, we need to be on time for school and work. So maybe we prepare a little more or get going a little earlier. (Believe you me, I need to put this one into practice).
We can’t stop time. So slow down a little. Savor more. Drop an activity. Put your phone down. Breathe it all in. So when the next holiday, birthday or end or start of school has you asking yourself if you did enough, you can smile and answer that questioning bitch with a resounding “Yes”.