There has been a lot of conversation and writing about having 18 summers with our children. If you’ve missed it then I salute you, it probably means that you’ve either not been glued to social media or you’ve managed to side step the discussion. It comes up on my timeline several times over especially during the summer months. The thing is, I don’t think that I have 18 summers with my boys. I have forever.
With every passing year my children change. They grow. They slowly but surely find their feet, their voices. They learn to do things for themselves. Using the toilet is one big milestone. Doing up laces is perhaps another. Riding a bike, zipping up a coat, cutting up their food. You name it they start to do it. I am proud of their achievements and the people that they are. I celebrate the little moments as well as the big. When we go to a park I let them wander that little bit further, climb that little bit higher. I notice these changes but I don’t feel sad. I feel proud.
When they reach 18 they will be young adults, ready to roam and fly the nest as it were. The nest though, our home, will be here for them for as long as Jacob and I are in it. It will be here when they find a life partner. It will be here if grandchildren come along. It will be here every day of every year, just as it is now. Sure they may not live with us any more, they may take holidays without us, but they will still be in our lives and I very much hope that we will be part of theirs.
The idea of 18 summers focuses on only having 18 summers whilst our little ones are children. Really though, when I was 15 or 16 I don’t recall hanging out with my parents that much. I had my first job and spent a lot of time earning and saving for my future. I am pretty sure that I went on holiday with my parents (I recollect exploring Northumberland with them both when I was around that age) but I am also confident that I was given the choice of whether or not to go.
It also assumes that children behave like young children until they are 18. I don’t think either of my parents would have presumed to tell me what to do when I was a teenager. I like to think that they raised an independently minded woman who can stand on her own two feet, and I hope that I am doing the same with my boys.
On the flip side of that both Jacob and I have been on holidays with our parents since we have grown into adults. The relationship may shift, a younger generation have arrived, but we are still family. We still have that connection. Yes, my father didn’t have to pack my bags when I last went away with him, but I didn’t have to pack Chief’s bag for our last holiday either.
Counting down 18 summers feels as though we are charting a diminishing timeline, but to what? And for what reason? None that I can think of! It also feels as though through counting down we are cheating ourselves out of some of the simple pleasures of life by being really present in the moment rather than always thinking ahead.
So am I counting down 18 summers with my children? Absolutely not! I am aiming to take each day as it comes. To enjoy each weekend, each holiday and each seasonal period with them. I hope that lasts forever.
What do you think about the idea of 18 summers? Do you feel pressure to make each one spectacular or are you hoping (or do you know) that the fun will last beyond childhood days? Let me know!