Have you ever heard someone talk about how we only have eighteen summers with our children? For the longest time, I hated reading this. It always struck me as so depressing and another one of those "enjoy your kids when they're little" guilt trips. And let's also just point out that we, God willing, have way more than eighteen summers with them, although I get that it won't be the same as when they are "little". (Am I allowed to call my boys "little" when they turn 18?? I think so. Always my babies!)
After many years, I've determined why that "fact" -- 18 summers with our children--was bothersome to me AND why I'm now able to see the excitement of it. Until a couple years ago, I deeply struggled with change. A bout with depression and anxiety when my oldest started kindergarten was a sure sign of that. There wasn't a magical cure that brought me out of that, nor has my relationship with change miraculously improved overnight. But I think what bothered me about being reminded about 18 summers was that my mind automatically jumped to the end of those summers and didn't view it as, "WOW! I get EIGHTEEN summers with my boys. How awesome is that!" I viewed it as, "Oh my gosh. Before I know it, the boys will be gone and not hanging out with me. And oh no, what if I didn't prepared them enough for the world? I'm not ready for that. I'm not ready. They need to stay little forever. 18 isn't a big number. Oh no..." I'm an over-analyzer and a worrier, what can I say?
But I'm getting better at seeing it from an excited point of view now. It has been so interesting to see how each summer has looked different depending on the age and stage of my children. For example, we're visiting my brother in Colorado this summer and taking almost a week to drive out there because IT SOUNDS FUN. I know. The last time we went to visit, my boys were two and four and there is zero chance I would have considered taking that long to drive there. Heck, we flew out--not because it was cheaper (it wasn't) but because it was much faster. :-) But now? A road trip with my five and seven year old sounds awesome and I just cannot wait for it! They are becoming such interesting individuals who love to be along for the adventure of something new. A couple times, moms of babies/toddlers have asked me if "it gets easier", meaning does life get easier when your kids get older (not that my kids are even that old...), but my response is that each age comes with different challenges and different beauty. As my boys get older, I am challenged to continue growing as well.
Instead of 18 summers being a countdown to the end of childhood, let's see those 18 summers as opportunities to grow alongside our kids. This isn't another one of those "enjoy every moment" speeches because I know that is isn't always enjoyable and there just might be a summer or two of the 18 that might not be fun. But....that doesn't remove the chance for us to learn and have an adventure or two with them. I feel like every day I see something about how hard motherhood is and it is, it definitely is. But can we please also recognize how beautiful and life-changing it is, too? As my favorite musician Mat Kearney says, "Nothing worth anything ever goes down easy."
Here's to whatever number summer 2019 is for you. (#8 & #6 over here)