Sippy cups, potty training, preschool ... and pampakes.
My daughter would ask, "Are we having pampakes for breakfast?" In the chaos of those early childhood moments, I was so engulfed by family that I couldn't imagine my life being any different than it was at that very moment. Yet, here I am with two pancake loving daughters who are eight and ten.
The days are long, but the years are short.
Balancing work, kids, and life requires constant readjustment. We get wrapped up in our children and finding that sock, snack, or school projects, doing laundry, prepping dinner, and helping with homework, scheduling that dentist appointment, packing tomorrow's lunch, and attending school meetings. We get so caught up in their details, that we sometimes forget who we are ...
And I admit, sometimes I embrace that ... being completely engulfed by their needs. Because when you forget yourself, who you were, it allows you to become who you want to be.
You'll always be a parent, but if you do your job right, your kids will become more and more independent each and every day. There will be a day, a day that comes faster than you can imagine, when this (take a look around), THIS my friends, this chapter of your life will be over. And if you read this blog regularly, this is about the point where I'd usually say we need to embrace the moment and be present here and now.
And I still believe that, but my older friends, they warn me of the mix of joy and pain you must endure as you watch your baby jump from being under your care to being an adult. There will be a day when they won't need your constant focus. And through my conversations with a variety of insightful moms, I've come to realize that we also need to look forward, beyond our children now.
We need to ask ourselves these types of questions regularly:
- What do I want to do or be when we are kid-free?
- What will make me happy (or excited)?
- Where do I want to live after the kids have moved out of the house?
- What kinds of dreams does my significant other have?
- How can we work toward bringing our visions together today?
What no one tells you about being a mom is that there is no shame in taking care of you. Thinking about and preparing for a future without little ones, underfoot does not make you a bad parent. It doesn't mean you value them or the current moment any less.
My baby is eight going on eighteen.
Every year my husband and I celebrate our anniversary with a long, kid-free weekend. Somewhere around 1:40 pm on Saturday, we run out of things to say about the kids. After a four hour commute, dinner out Friday night, and a long walk to breakfast on Saturday morning, we'd finally be forced to switch topics for the remaining 24-hours. This is when the magic happens.
You've got to find time to talk about something BEYOND the kids. Date night is not enough. You need solid span of uninterrupted time to connect. Send some emails, make some calls, get a babysitter. Pick a local destination, get a date on the calendar, and make a reservation.
We'd walk the streets of Bayfield chatting about life, goals, money, travel, books, the future ... us. We'd daydream about owning vacation property in the area and taking the girls kayaking through the Apostle Islands National Park. Four years ago, my family owed over $81,000 in credit card debt. We would leave for the weekend and take our dreams home with us.
It has been an interesting ride, with a variety of unexpected financial choices. This year we have no credit card debt and are saving for a second investment property in, you guessed it, Bayfield. Our long term goal is to spend retired summers in Wisconsin and then head south for the winter. Next summer, we're researching the Gatlinburg area with a camping trip to Smokey Mountains National Park. I hope to check out Asheville, North Carolina in the not too distant future, too. The point?
Everyday actions can yield great results.
Your dreams and goals might be completely different. Explore them. Discuss them. You deserve this.
This post is dedicated to my friend Debbie Clement. Thank you for your candid advice, Debbie!