I would love to carpe the diem out of every single day. Hell, most of the time I would settle to just carpe a few hours a week.
But it’s easier said than done. For starters, we have three (soon to be four) kids. So our attention is already divided. On top of that, we have bills and loans to pay off and careers to tend to. The boys need to eat three meals a day plus snacks and have gotten to the age where they really should bathe on a daily basis. And– despite my herculean efforts to do otherwise– I really do have to sleep. So does my husband.
And sometimes I just want to sit on the couch and watch The Bachelorette while the kids play on their own.
Point is, it’s difficult to savor all of the moments, let alone fill them with quintessential childhood experiences.
So I thank God every day for the village of people who are helping to raise our sons. Their teachers. Daycare providers. Camp counselors. Babysitters. Aunts. Uncles. Godparents. Grandparents. They all step in and take the baton when we are too tired or too busy to run another lap. And they do so without judgment or need for acknowledgment. They do so simply because they love our children. And when it’s too hard to love them, they do so because they’re being paid (but definitely not enough).
Several months ago, while attending a birthday party with Luke, I overheard two mothers talking about their kids learning to ride a bike.
“Has your son taken off his training wheels yet?” one asked. To which the other responded, “Yes, he’s been riding a two-wheeler since he was five.”
My first reaction was one of shock. Followed by embarrassment and shame. Embarrassment for Max, our 7-year old, who still rode with training wheels. And shame for my husband and me, because we have allowed ourselves to become too busy to find the time to take them off.
I spent that afternoon recalling my own childhood– which I could do with great detail because we were living in the same neighborhood at the time. The purple rhododendron bush is still there, imposing and magnificent. It served as a visual marker for my sisters and me when we were young, the boundary that we were not allowed to cross on our bikes. The two-wheelers that we rode, with reckless abandon and without helmets, for hours on end.
The only times that our boys- our active, adventurous, free-spirited boys- have been near that bush have been while they were on foot. A realization that sliced right through me and made me feel awful. Like a complete failure.
Then my in-laws, Oma and Opa, stepped in with a promise, delivered gently and without commentary, to teach Max to ride a two-wheeler during our annual Hilton Head vacation.
And he learned.
The people in our village are often the ones providing our children with THE experiences of childhood. The ones that my husband and I each had. The ones that we acknowledge are important and want to give but that we just can’t find the time or energy for. We certainly wish that it were otherwise, but we choose to appreciate the fact that our kids are living their best lives, rather than lament the fact that we are not the ones jogging along side the wobbly bicycle.
One day, when we enter a different season of life, we will be. But for now, we are grateful for our people.
The ones who let the boys bang around on the piano. We hear a lot of noise. They hear music.
The ones who patiently do arts and crafts with them. We see a lot of tedious work. They see creativity.
The ones who let them play in the sprinkler. We see a giant mess. They see good old fashioned fun.
Don’t be too hard on yourselves, friends. Don’t worry about your neighbors who take their kids skiing every weekend in the winter. Does your son have a friend who has been playing soccer since he could walk? Good for him. Your kid will get there eventually. Or maybe he’ll find a different thing. Have you never baked Christmas cookies with your children in a perfectly decorated kitchen while singing perfectly harmonized carols? Me neither. Perhaps this will be the year. Perhaps not.
We all love our children. Do what you can. And call upon your village people to help with what you can’t.