I do it every summer. I never mean to but I can’t seem to help it: once again I’m counting down.
Lily (my oldest child) turned nine this summer. The reality of what that means boggles my mind.
My years of raising her are half over. The picture book reading, her crawling into my bed at night, depending on me for suitcase packing and hair brushing and drink pouring… they were just stages. She’s grown out of them. She’s growing up so fast.
And yet… she’s still a nine year old little girl who loves to match her doll and ride her bike and have pink icing on her favorite cake.
Still in the innocence of childhood. Not far from the reality of adulthood. It’s happening quickly.
Then there’s Grace. My wild and sometimes crazy and always spunky fireball who just turned five. She’s officially school age and we’ll start kindergarten in a few weeks. Five doesn’t seem very old until I think about how little time I really have left – she’s already over 1/4 of the way to adulthood (28% to be almost exact).
She can ride a bike without training wheels and read a few things and do basic math. The changes are continual.
My niece spent a week with us and I can see that’s she’s growing up too. She’s silly and kind and helpful and appreciates family.
And I rejoice, knowing that I am so blessed to witness the new things but I also can’t help but feel a twinge of sorrow because I know that I won’t always get a front-row seat.
Before long, my children will be grown with lives completely separate from mine. I’ll no longer be the first person they go to when they have a question or a problem or when they just want someone to spend time with them.
So, now, when they interrupt my work a hundred times and when they want me to play when I have other things to do, those times are when I need to count my blessings and make time for my children. I can thank God that my children still choose me. Because I know I won’t always be so lucky.
And you know what else?
I can’t control my kids’ memories. But I can choose how I spend my time, which will greatly affect how they remember their childhood. Will they remember me as a fun mom, baking and playing and laughing and reading? Or will they remember me as a busy mom, always working and cleaning and too busy for them?
Whatever I’m putting into their memory banks now is what they’re going to remember later.
Yes, work is good, and often it’s necessary. But extra time to browse the internet, re-organize already neat closets, or text friends? Those things won’t go away. My children will. Before I know it, the second half of Lily’s childhood will be over and I’ll be hosting her graduation party. Grace will follow shortly behind. I won’t get a do-over on their childhood.
Nine years left. Nine more summers. Then we’re done. Grace has 13. Childhood is ending so fast.
Let’s embrace it while we can.