Every morning on the way to school, we drive by a house that reminds me.
Two pink bucket swings (I imagine twin girls) hanging next to a lone yellow belt swing offer a detour down memory lane, reminding me that time flies – fast. I’m pretty sure it was just yesterday that I spent hour after hour in our front yard with neighbors and friends watching our kids play and planning our/their lives.
Those swings remind me – because sometimes in the midst of the ordinary; sometimes during difficult times or when I’m racing around or when I haven’t slept all night (on both ends, younger and older kids, sleep is deprived for one reason or another) … I forget. And I don’t want to forget. That time flies – especially when kids are involved.
Last week I attended a luncheon for moms, many of which had kids in eighth grade about to graduate from middle school and make their way to high school. The “speaker” was a small panel of seasoned mothers who fielded questions – mostly about parenting. And isn’t that what we miss or crave? Time with and advice from women who can share from the other side of whatever season we find ourselves navigating.
So here are a few of the nuggets:
- When asked how to encourage siblings to love and serve each other, a mom of young adults responded: “Listen, we didn’t do playdates with friends or other kids until my children treated each other the way they would a guest. I told them, ‘You can’t have any friends over to play until you figure out how to play with the people who live in your house.’”
Loved it. In fact, used it this weekend. I had an older brother snarking on his younger brother’s Lego creation. An action I quickly zipped, saying “We don’t use ‘stupid’ to describe someone’s creative interpretation of a racecar.” Then I wondered how old a kid needs to be before they quit saying stuff like that! And I followed it up with the beautiful and effective, “And, by the way, you will not be allowed to have a friend over until you learn how to treat your brother as you would a guest.” Being that the kid normally does treat his brother better than any of his friends, I might have dished a dose of harsh too quickly. But I just couldn’t wait to use her terrific approach to sibling service and love. And, by the way, it worked like a charm. The Lego love was flowing.
- Another question: How do you keep your kids from being judgmental (i.e. talking about friends/classmates/teachers in less than favorable terms)? The mom’s response was so nice. “I told my kids that everyone has a bad day. And to lighten up. They should be quicker to meet someone where they are than to judge someone on how they should have acted. All while realizing that they too will have a bad day.”
- Other questions centered on all the things about which we can barely stop ourselves from worrying. The overriding response from the panel moms on almost every issue – from being included on teams to getting into college: “Don’t worry.” “It will all work itself out.” “It’s going to be okay.” Over and over and over.
It might not seem like it in the moment, but it really will be okay. Especially when we err on the side of loving, directing & parenting, but mostly loving these kids.
Because one of the last things a panel mom said really hit home, “Fight for your time.”
Isn’t that great? “Fight for your time.”
Maybe that’s why I love those swings so much. They serve as a reminder to fight for the time with my kids, lest I forget how fast it flies.
They remind me that all the things I worried about and planned when my kids were little actually have turned out okay… just like college will… just like their vocations will … just like – well, fill in the blank.
They remind me to lean into and love the older kids still riding in the car beside me like I did when they were carefree young tots running around the yard. Because deep inside those young adult bodies are still little kids craving what we all do – someone to believe in them, to cheer for them, to unconditionally love them, to remind them … it’s going to be okay.
Then maybe when we all realize that such a need can never be fully met by a mom, or a dad, or a spouse, or a friend … we will look to the One who actually can and does love them/us that way.
Thanks for walking the road with me.