I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic at times.
I think about the days when my sister and I would play Shannon Miller and Dominique Moceanu in the backyard, pretending to be the next Olympians.
I think about the days when I spent my time lining up each and every one of my crayons just so, to make a stellar railroad track for who knows what.
I think about the days when my imagination would run wild, with no need for tv, recreation, or outside entertainment needed.
Then I think about parenting and the environment we are raising our kids in today.
This past summer has been quite busy, though at times I have made it that busy too. I have had fun exploring our “new” community, the sights and sounds, and all the activities it has to offer. With school having already started or will be starting in the next few days and weeks, I can’t help but glance forward to the next 2 years, realizing we only have 2 more years until Mazy is in school. Two years.
We have the option of 3 school too, but then I thought oh, I can teach her what she would learn in 3 school, at home. But then I asked myself, “What happened to just parenting?” What happened to the days of letting Mazy just be, letting her learn the ropes of this world as a 2 1/2 year old right now, and just letting her be a kid?
Now let me preface this with saying that I see NOTHING wrong with sending your kid to 3 school. In fact, for all I know, maybe we will too. But I want it to be for the right reasons and one of them being, right for her. Being a little more heightened to the youth culture around us, due to Dan’s job as a youth pastor, I see kids running from this to that, only just wishing they could just go home after school. I see kids working every hour possible to make money for college when in reality, they probably just won’t make enough anyways. And I see these kids, saying goodbye to their childhood all too soon. I see these kids locked in on their phones, thinking that their world is hidden inside their social media accounts. My heart aches for them.
And this is the world Mazy has been brought into. I am not trying to stay void from the influences of the world, but what I want Mazy to say when she is in the midst of college (or not college if she chooses not to go), that she didn’t feel her childhood was stolen from her. I want her to remember her childhood as a time of imagination, freedom, frolicking, and popsicles by the pool. I want her to look back and giggle, remembering the times of old, thinking about the imaginative things she created, the experiences she had, and not the childhood that was stolen from her.
This is when I realized I am in control of that. That is a heavy load to carry in my mind, to realize that I am truly the one who makes all those decisions for her – her schedule, her activities, what food she eats, when she goes to bed, and when she can ride her bike. But why sit here and spend my time thinking the years away, trying to keep her “ahead” of everyone else, when right at this moment, I have the gift of just parenting her, loving her, nurturing her, and ensuring her that she has a place in this family?
Thanks to social media, Pinterest, magazines, and really the world around us, we are all vying for this perfect parent award. And not even just that, the perfect child award. Trust me, I allow my mind to go there too. We all do, whether we think we do or not. But over the past few months, as we have explored our new area, I realize that when Mazy is at her finest, is when she is just allowed to BE, wherever we are. When I can just be too and not try to ensure that she is the next perfect kid. When Mazy can run up to Sandy the horse at Meijer, with such joy that she turns the heads of shoppers and even receives comments, it makes me realize that this is much more important than my groceries getting in the car and running to the next errand. When Mazy rides her scooter up to the neighbor’s house and jumps up on their porch furniture, wanting to talk, it makes me take a step back too. Do I tell her no, get down, we don’t have time, or just let her be? When we are at the park and she wants to try something new, am I quick to say no, you are too little, but realize she is maybe more ready than I thought and she proves me wrong? Just let it go, Kristin. (And she proves me wrong ALL OF THE TIME). And it’s those times when all she wants to do is draw puppies with me, when I find my mind thinking about 1,000 other things, but then she walks up to me with the most beautifully drawn “puppies.” And oh how proud she is.
I don’t want to lose sight of just parenting. I don’t want to lose sight of the gift we have of having our children in our homes with us, creating a childhood that they are once going to look back on. I don’t want to one day wish I had done things differently (though in some aspect I know I will). I want to just parent and I want her to just be a child.
Is this something you find yourself wrestling with too? If so, what are your thoughts?
Thank you, Dad and Mom, for giving me the gift of a childhood. For letting my imagination run wild. All of the time.