Sunday, August 18, 2019

End of Summer Stomachache

My daughter goes back to school in a few days, and my stomach hurts.

About this time every year, I start to have this sinking feeling that we didn't do enough "fun stuff" during her summer break.  It feels like the time is slipping through my fingers, and we just blew it.

In an attempt to combat these feelings this year, I started writing down fun things that my daughter did (or that we did as a family) these last couple of months. Theatre Camp, Rainforest Camp, swimming and splash pads, visiting friends out of town, trips to visit both sets of grandparents... nope.  Didn't help.  I'm still feeling pukey.

If you asked my daughter, I think she'd tell you that she got to do everything she wanted this summer minus one big thing with her aunt that we just couldn't work out logistically.

So why am *I* having such a hard time?

Probably because this isn't really about the end of summer.  You guys, I blinked... and my oldest child is almost eight.  And in 10 years, she'll be almost 18.

And then we'll *really* know if I "blew it" or not.

Am I doing stuff now to build those skills she's going to need in 10 years?  Can she entertain herself alone and play well with others?  Yes.  Can she feed herself?  Umm... does opening a can of Pringles count?

Does she understand that actions have consequences? Does she pick up after herself? Does she tell the truth?  Most of the time.

What it really boils down to is this: In 10 years, will I have done all the things I needed to do to create a human who is ready to leave me?  Or maybe even more significant, a human who CHOOSES to leave... but still finds enough comfort in the feeling of "home" we created to desire to come back occasionally?

Sandwiched between the games of Battleship and the afternoons of too much screen-time, am I teaching the lessons that need to be taught?  Are we balancing the chats about "which super power you'd like to have" with enough *big* conversations?  Am I saying the right things?  Am I imparting enough wisdom?

My God... is there any way of knowing?  Probably not.

Maybe one of the secrets of parenthood is to get comfortable with the perpetual aches. The ache of constant worry, the ache that occurs after you lose your cool with the little people you love the most, and the ache of realizing that no matter what you do... you have no idea how these kids of yours are going to turn out or what they'll remember about their childhoods.

What is it people say about using your mind to reduce your pain? Breathe through the ache.

School stars in a few days, and all I can do is keep breathing.

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