Wednesday, June 18, 2014

18 Summers

My bloggy friend, Amy, wrote a post yesterday on her delightful blog that made my heart ache.  18: How Many Summers Do You Have?  You should wander over there and read it because it happens to be the inspiration for this post.  

Isn't that the thought weighing heavily on everyone's minds lately!  How Many Summers Do You Have Left?  That seems to be the topic of conversation with everyone I meet these days...perhaps it's because I'm the one always bringing it up.  But even after I do, my friends chime right in with their own lamentations about how quickly time has flown in their families, too, and how few years there are left to fit it all the things that still have to be done.  

Savannah is graduating in December, so this is our LAST summer with her!  This may have been a big part of the reason for the impulsive Memorial Day church history trip.  There are clearly NOT enough summers left for all the trips we wanted to take with the kids.  When they were little, Craig always talked about taking a family vacation to France so the kids could see where he served his mission, and so his mission could see the kids!  We haven't yet made it to France or to a lot of the places that were on that original list...Canada, New York, Washington DC, or...Hawaii!  ( many Hawaiian kids do you know who have never been to Hawaii?? I'm pretty sure that's some kind of cultural irresponsibility that I'm going to be accountable for at some point in the future.) 

It feels like I'm trying so hard lately to hang on to the little pieces of today without fretting too much about how they're going by faster than I would like them to.  But as much as I try to suppress the desperation, I can still feel it lurking beneath the surface.  Every shopping trip...  Every last day of school tradition...  Every family prayer... makes the countdown in my head more and more apparent.  18 years seems like a shockingly short amount of time when your oldest daughter is 17 1/2, and the others are not far behind. I was writing my very long comment on Amy's blog post, I had this little moment of clarity and personal revelation...

Craig and I may not have covered the whole list of stuff we wanted to accomplish before our kids leave the nest, but we've done a lot, and they have seen and experienced A LOT in those 17 1/2 years.  They've been to the Everglades, Rushmore, Carlsbad Caverns, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Teton, and Yellowstone.  They've slept in a tent, caught a fish, driven a golf cart and a tractor, and hiked for miles.  They've seen oceans and mountains, lakes and deserts.  They've experienced snow pants and snorkeling gear, ferries, cruise ships, and jet skis.  They've seen alligators up close, had monkeys untie their shoes, and had a picnic with a bear.  And in 2012 they saw the world's largest ball of twine!  But while all those trips are definitely memorable and fun, they're not the only way we can make an impression on our kids.  Even though our days are flying by and filled to the brim with so many demands and responsibilities, these kids are STILL HERE.  No one has actually left yet.    

So, instead of regretting what we don't have time to do, I've been trying to look for the things I CAN do.   I've said yes more often.  Yes to otter pops.  Yes to snuggling.  Yes to staying up a little later.  I've been trying to flop on their beds a little more often, and hang out at the pool WITH them instead of sending them off with friends.  I take the long way home when I have just one kid in the car with me and look for opportunities to hear what's on their minds.  I crawled into a fort made out of blankets last night and just listened to McKay tell me all about his dream car.  And hopefully, one day when they're all out of the house, we can look back and say, "We didn't do everything, but we did enough."

Perhaps those unchecked adventures are still possibilities in our future.  Maybe one of the kids will want to go to BYU Hawaii and we'll get to make a family trip out of setting up a college dorm room?  Maybe we'll just have to take some sons-in-laws and a daughter-in-law with us to NY or DC.  Maybe we'll take GRANDBABIES to DisneyWorld!  Or...perhaps all the things we didn't get to do will become the things that make it on our kids' FUTURE bucket lists for their own families.  

There are lots of stages of our lives that are over, and many exciting ones left to come, but oh, how happy I just am for today.  For this summer.  For these days.  And for the way life looks at this moment.  


  1. Love it - I find myself letting go of a lot of things that may have bothered me in the past. You want to sleep in my bed? Let me move over! It's a mother's challenge - to enjoy the present while it's here. Thanks for the post :)

  2. Love.
    Just love.
    Just what I need to hear.
    Thanks, my sweet friend. : )

    1. Oh...and I love the photos.
      Both of them. : )

  3. I love this post - it was so poignant since my youngest just turned 18 yesterday. We took him to Hawaii for the last family vacation before his mission and it was great, but a little bitter sweet because it was just him and us - the older kids are gone and on their own and we don't see them often. It is still good to focus on the positive. As parents we always wish we could have done more for our kids, I think, but it is better to focus on the things we did do right. Thank you for this post. I really needed it today. Enjoy the rest of the week.