I'm not sure who started "you only get 18 summers with your kids." It seems like every summer, those sentiments go around the Internet causing moms to get emotional and write out their summer bucket lists to prevent a wasted summer. It's another reminder that time goes by quickly and to enjoy every moment. (This was my reaction the first time I read it.) Trust me, I lost it and just wanted to cry into my pillow especially because I have an only child so our "18 summers" are not extended with a second child.
We Have More Than 18 Summers
How about if I told you that we get more than 18 summers? That the summers are endless. That you don't have to make a bucket list (unless you want to). That it's ok if you don't go visit every museum, go to every county fair, park, beach, and event. That it's ok if you don't travel the world every summer. That the memories you make in the every day is just as amazing and worthwhile as all the places you want to visit on your bucket list.
Growing up, I don't think my parents had a bucket list. I don't even remember a whole lot of trips every summer. We didn't travel very often. Sometimes summers were filled with sitting in our living room, eating watermelon and watching TV together- we were together and that was what mattered.
This isn't to say that those moms or families that make the most of their 18 summers by filling them with activities are crazy or ambitious. More power to you if you love being on the go all the time. For me, I am not that type of person or mom. I don't have a long list of places to go. Actually, I don't even have a bucket list. And guess what, that's ok.
So instead of looking at these 18 summers as a count down, I remind myself of these things:
- We have as many summers as we want as long as we are still their parents-- which pretty much means forever.
- The summers will look different but we still have them. Every phase in motherhood/parenthood looks different. In the younger years, your kids need you for everything so the summers will be filled with more activities together. When they are older and have their own lives apart from you, summers might be filled with their own friends or part time jobs. In college and beyond- there are so many amazing things to look forward to- meeting their significant others, grand kids, etc. The summers might not be what you envisioned it but it's not always about you.
- Your kids will always come back home. Even if you're in the 18th summer, don't look at it as an end but as a beginning to a new chapter! They may be going off to college or getting a job but they will always come home.
- Don't feel the need to make a bucket list or fill the summer with activities because everyone else is. I have to remind myself to stay true to what aligns with our family. That I don't need to keep up with whoever I see on Instagram or Facebook. If we want to travel and fill up our summer with many daily outings, then I can. If that's not our thing, then I shouldn't feel the need to do so because everyone else is doing it.
- Spending TIME together is more important than what you do. A lavish trip sounds amazing but spending quality time together is more important- being PRESENT. (Put down your phone.)
Sure, I'm only on my 5th summer so I might not know what I'm talking about. But I want to look at the summers as experiences to be enjoyed NOT as a countdown. When I look at the 18 summers as opportunities to make memories with my family instead of another to-do list, it's more enjoyable and meaningful.
How about you? What do you think about the 18 summers you have with your kids?
Photos by: Photos: Avenue Mama Creative/Annie Vovan