Monday, October 7, 2013

940 Saturdays.

True.  Of course it depends on your child's birth month and a variety of other variables. Only nerdy minds such as mine factor in such variables. Others just take this at face value and want to run off and plan a special weekend with her child. Sometimes I wish my mind operated on that level.

But it doesn't. 

And while I certainly understand, and at times, tout the "carpe diem" philosophy of parenting, I also have parented long enough to understand that some days are just too long to recognize how painfully short the years can be. 

The concept that young parents should simply "enjoy every moment because it goes so fast" infuriates me. Yes, enjoy the ride. Enjoy the big picture of parenting. But truly, I will never tell any parent to enjoy the moment when one toddler is standing in the grocery cart screaming and the other is running down the cereal aisle knocking down every box. Yes, you may eventually look back and laugh at that moment. But no sane or sober mother is laughing or enjoying that very moment.  

Nor will I attempt to make any working parent feel guilty because he or she cannot make the 300th soccer game of the season because of work. Work pays the bill for the cleats, the pizza party, and the trophy for every kid on the team. Work is a necessity. 

When and why did every moment become so special?  

Growing up my parents did not entertain me every weekend. Actually, think it's fair to say they entertained me very few weekends. Truly, those few were special occasions. Most weekends they were busy with yard work, chores, friends, and activities of their own. They taught bridge in our basement for college credit {this still baffles me}. They mowed the yard. They cleaned the house. They cooked meals. They socialized with their own friends. 

This is not to say that I was in any way neglected as a child. Quite the contrary. My parents were fabulous parents. They encouraged me and loved me unconditionally. They just didn't entertain me. If I said I was bored my mother handed me Comet and told me to clean all the sinks. And I did. 

I remember when my duo were just babes, my father said one day while I was playing with my kids on the floor of his living room, "You are always on the floor entertaining them. We never spent time on the floor with you." True. I have many pictures of myself in a playpen surrounded by toys. Mom was probably busy sewing a dress for herself. I was incapable of sewing on a button when my duo was little -- I was too busy sitting on the floor entertaining them. 

What caused this cultural shift and is it good for us or our children? 

Quite frankly, though I've already spent over 520 Saturdays "enjoying" my children, I would argue that every weekend should not be a special occasion. Children need to learn to entertain themselves, or perchance, to clean the sinks.  

Yes, we should enjoy quality time with our children. Often. But we should also enjoy ourselves - with and without them. 

We should enjoy family game nights filled with laughter and silliness, but we should not feel guilty about couple date nights filled with champagne and sushi. We need both. And they need to see a healthy relationship in action. 

We too should celebrate the change of the seasons and jump on the trampoline until our legs sag. We should also enjoy the crisp breeze from our perch in a hammock reading a book. Alone. Children can entertain themselves. More so as they get older, but even in small spurts when they are young. Work from wherever you are.  

Finally, we should not feel guilty about working. {Unless, that is, you are a workaholic who prefers working to living. That is another issue and one which I shall not address.} But if you, like the hubs, have a job that demands working weekends from time to time, then work on the weekends. Weekend days are not sacred. Find quality time when you can. Don't beat yourself up for providing for your family.

I have no doubt I will miss my children when they head off to college. I will most certainly miss the messes and the loudness and the busyness they bring. Without question. That tremendous feeling of loss, however, will not wane simply because we had 940 meticulously-planned, over-the-top Saturdays together. 

Carpe diem.  

When you can. 

Or lay around next Saturday and read a really good book.

Kids should have parents who do both. 

Because truly, while creating an-every-weekend-is-a-party mentality may prepare children for college, perhaps it is not in the manner you intend. 

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