We all want the best for our children. It’s part of being a parent. We want more for them than we had (no matter how good we had it!), and we want to make sure that our children have the best possible life we can provide. We want to do all the fun things with them, and make sure that they don’t miss out on anything. We scour the internet looking for ideas and things to do with them. When a friend or family member goes someplace, we wonder if we should take our kids, and how soon we should go. We certainly don’t want to miss out on something someone else did! That just wouldn’t be right.
It’s natural to want the best for our kids and to want to do our best to provide for them. It’s also natural to want try to make sure that our kids (or ourselves) don’t miss out on anything. But, we can run ourselves ragged trying to do it all and be it all. ALL. THE. TIME. It’s exhausting. And it gets old. And, quite frankly, it’s an impossible standard to live up to. So, why bother trying? For fear that we’ll miss out on something, or that our kids will. So, we keep trying, and we do our best. After all, that’s part of our job description as parents, right? Provide for our children and do our best to make sure they have everything possible?
We went back to Michigan last summer, which is where most of my family lives. The kids were almost 2.5 and 9 months old at the time, so traveling with them involved a lot of prep work and preplanning, but it was worth it. It had been a little over 10 years since I had been back there, so lots had changed, but mostly that I had a few more cousins who had been born since the last time I visited. And, this time I was bringing a husband and two children, so a lot had changed with me too.
It was a sunny, but muggy morning (hello, it’s the midwest in the summer!) when I “met” one of my cousins. We were outside, next to the trees and there was a gentle breeze. He had tons of cars and other vehicles, and a nice little sandbox for kids to play in. We brought him a plane, because that’s how we got to Michigan, and it went with the vehicle theme. Unfortunately, Brody wasn’t like my other cousins. I didn’t get to talk to him, watch him play, ask him any questions, or give him a hug. He didn’t get to interact with my kids or tell us any stories. Why? Because we were in the cemetery.
Brody died three years ago of brain cancer. Sweet Pea was just a few months old at the time and Brody was only 4 years old. I’m honestly not sure what was harder- getting out of the car and visiting his grave (pictures are one thing, but being there is something entirely different), holding it together and trying to explain to Sweet Pea why we were at the cemetery, or trying to type this in a way to truly capture how horrible, sad, and heartbreaking it is to see a 4 year old’s final resting place (After staring at the computer screen for a while through my tears and blowing my nose a few times, I’ve given up on trying to put words to how it felt. There’s just no describing it. Even days later, the cursor just flashes as I stare at the computer screen, hoping words would come to me, but, for once, I’m speechless. Trust me. It’s gut wrenching, heartbreaking, sad, and just makes me want to hug my kids a little tighter.). But, it’s truly a beautiful spot, if there is such a thing in a cemetery. I can totally see why my cousin chose that spot, and can envision her running there when there’s no snow on the ground. But, as cheerful as it is, it’s just heartbreaking.
And, what she wouldn’t give for another moment with her son. Another chance to play cars with him, tell him to help clean up his mess, or to eat his dinner. Life isn’t about the “big” moments, like vacations. It’s about the day to day stuff and making those moments count. Sure, Sweet Pea still talks about Michigan every once in awhile, but what makes a bigger impact on her and Buddy Boy is what we do each day and how we do it. And, we do everything together, partly because I’m not sure how else to do it, partly because it’s how I was raised, because it’s a good chance for them to learn about life just by experiencing it, and partly because we use very minimal screen time. But, it might also be partly because I’m afraid of missing out.
I don’t want to miss out on my kid’s lives. I don’t want to look back and wish I had spent more time with them. I don’t want them to look back and remember watching hours upon hours of TV or playing video games while I sat and did whatever. Or, have memories of them playing by themselves and with each other and that was that. I want them to remember that I played with them. I was involved. I was there. I was present. I was available. I taught them to ____.
Am I perfect? Of course not! Not even close. Do I love every minute of parenting and treasure the good and the bad? No. I don’t. I’m human. Just like you. I get fed up with repeating myself or feel my patience wearing thin when I’m tired or we’re having a rough day. But, I try to remind myself that it’s temporary. It most likely doesn’t matter in the long run. “This too shall pass.” Does it still suck? Probably, but it’s not the end of the world, even if it feels like it. And, if there’s something we can take away it and learn from, even better.
I don’t want to ONLY have pictures and memories of my child to look back on someday. But, the harsh reality is that none of us knows what the future holds. Sadly, it could happen to any of us. My cousin didn’t think that someday, all she’d have were pictures and memories of her son. She never thought that she’d have to say goodbye to her son, and that her other children would have to bury their brother.
So, what are you going to do TODAY to make memories with your children? How are you going to make life fun, even the ordinary stuff? Or, how will you find ways to involve your kids, which allows you to spend more time with them (even if the task takes longer and is harder)? The Making Memories in May Activity Challenge is perfect for this!
And, while you’re busy making memories and taking pictures, take some of yourself too. You with your kids. Those are important too. Someday, someone will want to look at those too. Who cares if you’ve used dry shampoo for 3 days in a row, have on yesterday’s eyeliner and no other make-up and your shirt is stained? Take the picture! So what if the house is a mess and you can’t get a “good” angle. No one will care years from now. Take the picture! And, you can always use a filter or crop it later (or not!). 😛
For more about Brody’s story and to learn more about pediatric brain cancer or to make a donation to help find a cure, please check out The Brody Strong Foundation.
Would you like to get started connecting with your child through conversations? Get my FREE guide today!