Summer was odd. All of my children were working. My youngest, my baby, worked away at camp coming home only at weekends. It was the first school summer vacation that I did not have to try and fill with fun stuff. On my days off no one came to me and said, ‘Mummy, what are we going to do today?’
When the children were young summer was a big deal. A lot of thinking went into what we would do with all that time. I was the family’s event and entertainment planner. I made plans, saved vouchers for days out, looked out for deals. We tried to always go on some kind of vacation at some point, then the rest of the time would be days out to farms, zoos, theme parks, beaches; days with friends; a few days visiting family; lots of swimming; many days just at home with maybe a trip to the park. We did things all together. Having four children meant we could be fairly contained, most of the time they could create their own entertainment, but they liked to get together with others too – and so did I.
The school summer break seemed long at six weeks in the UK and then in Canada ten weeks! It’s a lot of days to fill. Nevertheless we have photos, videos and memories filled with many happy times together in between the occasional (or more than occasional), ‘I’m bored’ complaint. I saw something on Facebook just today about raising children: ‘the nights are long but the years are short.’ Well, this goes for the summer too, ‘Summers seem long, but the years are short.’
Now, instead of, ‘Mum, can we go to…’ often I get, ‘Mum, can we take the car to…’ Their plans mostly have no consideration for what I might like, even though I have considered them every day since they were born (almost). My suggestions for things to do together are mostly seen as ridiculous. In general, a trip out is more fun with the presence of friends and probably without the presence of me and their Dad. They’re leaving and going out into the world.
It’s natural, it’s normal. I didn’t think I’d feel so sad about it.
Could I just have a few more days? A few more hours? Because I don’t think I did the job as well as I could have. I lost my temper too often, messed up too much. They know how foolish I am at times. I didn’t savour the moments as much as I could. There are things I feel I still haven’t taught them. Things that I’ve learned from others now, that I’d like to have put into practice then. Do they know how much I love them? Have we shown them by the way we live how much more God loves them?
I’m being dramatic. I know time doesn’t come back. If I’m honest, would I really want it to? Time with my children is different now. I grab it where I can and hope for good conversation, fun and quality times (praying I say the right things at the right time). I know I can trust God with my children and let them go.
Looking back I’m glad and grateful I had the opportunity to spend summers with my children, however long the days were sometimes. The years are short. I had that time, a gift, all those treasured moments being part of growing them into the people they are today. There’s pain and heartache, but also much joy in this parenting journey.