We’ve hit that milestone in our family that I’ve been dreading…the first set of graduation announcements from the friends my daughter has grown up with. As I reflect on the many great memories I have of these kids growing up, I also can reflect on what I’m thankful I did and what I wish I had done differently. For those of you who have a few more years with your kids, I hope this is valuable. For those in the same boat as me, maybe it gives you solace knowing you aren’t the only one.
What I did right.
Make the memories.
I made sure our house was the house kids wanted to come and endured the inconveniences that came with it. Yes this meant being confined to my bedroom a time or two as the living room was transformed into a fort, city or some other structure but the laughter and memories made far exceed the frustration of a few hours in my room. It also meant my kitchen looked like an F5 tornado had run through it a time or two but many of the girls to this day will ask when they can come over and bake cookies (aka get into a flour fight with each other).
What I wish I would have done differently.
More times than I care to count, I was physically present but mentally somewhere else… and she knew it. There were times when I would ask her to repeat herself only to hear “nevermind” or “forget about it” in frustration. I wonder how many of those moments were teaching moments that I lost in providing her the many bits of wisdom I remember my mom sharing with me. Even in those rare moments when I simply couldn’t focus, I should have taken the time to “schedule time” for us to talk.
As I listen to she and her friends reminisce about their childhood, I’m learning that the memories and the time together are what they cherish the most. It’s amazing how much those bike rides or walks to the park mean to them, more than the fancy restaurants or extravagant trips in some respects.
Time is a precious gift that you can give to your child so laugh a little, get things a little messy and listen.