We only have 18 summers with our kids.
In case you weren’t already aware, the memes on social media will quickly remind you.
I understand the point and appreciate the message. It is all too easy in this parenting gig to slip into survival mode.
Between working to support them, cooking to feed them, and trying to take care of all their other needs (plus our own needs/household needs/family needs/etc.), it’s easy to forget to enjoy them and those precious years we have them.
The “18 summers” movement encourages an intentionality that is good and necessary.
But it also brings a whole lot of pressure.
At least, it does for me.
And, as I recently learned, my husband was feeling the pressure, too. A pressure to “go big or go home” with our summer activities.
And it made me wonder if we’re failing to give the plain ol’ ordinary summer days their fair shake.
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“We have nothing to show for our summer!”
We were discussing the impending start of school one day, and he lamented, “The summer’s almost over, and we have nothing to show for it.”
“What are you talking about?” I said. “We had a lot of fun this summer!”
He said, “Yeah, but we didn’t go do anything. I feel like we wasted our whole summer.”
I reminded him that we have an infant and two other small children, and I suggested that maybe this wasn’t the ideal summer to try to do anything big or extravagant.
He then expressed his worry that all our summers with our kids would be over before we knew it, and he didn’t want to let them go to waste.
In other words, he was watching those 18 summers slip away.
And while I understood his concern, it also bothered me.
What Makes “Good” Summers?
Sure, I want to go on big vacations and make lasting memories with our kids. I loved my family’s vacations growing up.
I also know how quickly the summer passes and how much of our bucket lists go untouched.
I certainly don’t want to look back years from now with regrets over missed opportunities.
But… are vacations and trips and extravagant activities the only productive ways to spend those 18 summers? Does our time together not mean anything if it’s spent primarily at home?
I reminded my husband of all the fun we had this summer:
Teaching Aidan to cannonball in the pond and taking Annabel for her first swim.
Making homemade popsicles and picking goodies from the garden.
Attending story hours and events at the public library.
Grabbing ice cream treats and playing at the park.
Not to mention spending hours upon hours playing, laughing, eating, building, working, and enjoying quality time together in our own backyard.
It’s OK to Have Ordinary Summers
Maybe nothing about our summer is worthy of a travel magazine and maybe most people would consider our summer pretty ordinary. Fair enough.
But it meant something to me, and it meant something to the kids, and I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.
Travel is great. Camping is fun. Activities are special. And I definitely hope to do more. (Preferably in a few years when everyone is sleeping through the night and pooping on a toilet.)
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But home is where the heart is. And there’s plenty of opportunities to build lasting memories there, as well.
We only have 18 summers with our kids.
And I don’t want to spend a single one of them stressed about not doing “enough.”
Because when you think about it, having the right people and the right attitude makes those ordinary summer days pretty extraordinary, after all.
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