A few days ago I sat down, pen in hand, with my littles at the kitchen table.
I’d been meaning to make a list of fun things that each child wanted to do over the course of the summer. A summer bucket list of sorts I guess you could say.
I’m guilty as charged if you think for one minute that I might have wanted to make that list just for the satisfaction of crossing off one or all of said activities. I’m kind of crazy like that. It’s odd how much credit we can give to a completed checklist.
When we began to talk and write a few things down what struck me most is what the kids didn’t say.
It reminded me of a time last year when I went to a Lifeway conference in Nashville with a few mom friends. There was one speaker in particular that I respect so much and was anxious to hear what he had to say the most. After a day of worship and mini-sessions we made our way into the auditorium and I think the advertised topic for the night was “The Five Things Your Kids Need Most.”
I probably sat on the edge of my chair a little as he began to speak with my glasses perched on my nose and my journal open to start writing furiously as he dove into his allotted forty-five minutes.
I’ll never forget the first thing he said, “Just show up…”
I looked at him and then down at my journal and back up again. Surely I had missed it.
But for the next forty five minutes I heard the most beautiful down to earth view of parenting that a woman in this comparison driven, Pinterest-worthy world we live in might ever hear.
It was simple, really.
And oh how quickly I tend to forget how simple it all really is.
I think that the anxiety that I sometimes feel in my mothering isn’t from the littles at all — it’s from me and my unrealistic expectations.
Because while I’m trying to make the summer of 2015 look like something out of a stinking fairytale, my children are making known to me lately that what is going on in their little heads sounds something like this. “Man, I wish mom would just take us to McDonald’s to get an ice cream cone.”
Or, “I wish she would put down her phone long enough to notice the way I can dive and do a big cannon ball in the pool.”
Or, “Look mom at what a good reader I’ve become!”
Or, “Let’s go sit by the creek at the library and wade a little bit.”
Or, (this one really gets me and I have a hard time with this one most), “I wish she would let us stay up past bedtime and build a tent in the living room telling stories in the dark.”
Or, (my kids have been asking for this one a lot lately), “Let’s build a fire in the back yard and roast marshmallows.”
None of this is really new news to me or anyone else for that matter. My kids want the same things that I wanted as a kid. We never went to Disney World when I was growing up. Never.
Did I feel cheated? No way.
Because my dad and mom got out and rode four wheelers with us, took us camping and were so intentional with the time they spent with us that I never felt like I was missing out on anything. Still don’t.
So while I’m browsing expedia.com for the latest summer getaway deal I can book or planning fifteen trips to Dollywood, my kids are saying, “Stop.”
“Stop and listen to me. Spend time with me. Live in the moment and mean what you’re saying to us.” We all know that kids can spot a faker in a New York minute. They just want us to enjoy them.
They never requested anything that was out of the ordinary in our little conversation. Nothing was too big, fancy or expensive.
It doesn’t cost a thing to enjoy someone. Mostly, it just involves our time.
So, to all of you mamas out there who are like me, the ones who sometimes get tangled up in the need to DO too much…I want to encourage you to slow down and BE who you are as a mother today. You’ll blink and it will be over. Schedules and routines and bedtimes will come back and another summer will bite the dust before you know it.