Posted by Bonita Jewel
A friend visited from India last week. My kids were excited that he was coming and brimming over with stories to tell him, things to show him, and ideas of things to do together. We spent a day at a national park and had a great visit. But, as time often tends to do, it flew by. Every day I heard from one or the other kids, “I wish he was staying longer.”
On the last day of his visit, my youngest – who probably didn’t even remember him from when we lives in India – was nigh distraught. “I don’t want him to leave, because I love him,” he told me a couple of times.
When we dropped him off at the bus station, again as Aiden waved goodbye through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, he turned to me. “I don’t want him to leave, because I love him.”
Saying goodbye. I think it is a relatively new thing for the kids, although the older two are a bit more familiar with it, as they remember moving to California from India. I’ve moved over 20 times in my life. Across state lines. Across nations. Across seas.
I’ve said a lot of goodbyes, some more poignant than others. Some for the last time while in this world. Some with the hope of seeing loved ones again. Others with that inner hint that I won’t, at least for a very long time.
But how do you pass all that on to your children, especially the ones that seem almost too young to grasp concepts that can’t easily be explained? How do you explain to them the importance of living in the present, being thankful for every moment, yet not living for today?
Living for the hope of tomorrow. Of eternity.
Last night again, as I kissed the kids good night, my youngest expressed his sadness in having to say goodbye. “When you’re sad,” I told him, “you can remember the fun times you had and you can also pray for the people you remember.” He asked for a story instead. I’m not sure how deeply my advice went.
But they will face more goodbyes. Some more poignant than others. Yet there is joy, hope, and purpose … in every day and in every circumstance. I’m still working towards that understanding. And if I can help my children understand it as well – or at least work towards it – even goodbyes won’t be so bad.
Posted by Bonita Jewel
I wanted to be able to really focus on my children during the summer months of June through August. It started off well. That first month, we did projects; we learned together about interests the children had; we went camping, and even started studying another language. June was, in my mind, a success.
July started off much the same. A week into it, I took on an editing job. Little did I know, the author had high expectations for the speed at which he wanted to see the project complete. A 400-page book edited, ASAP, with daily expectations and progress report. My summer plan with the kids took a back seat. “I’ll finish this quickly,” I thought to myself, yet felt guilty every time my daughter reminded me, “It’s Wednesday. We’re supposed to do a sewing project.” or “It’s Friday, baking day.” The editing project was completed at the end of the month, on schedule. However, July was, in my mind and according to my initial plans with my kids, somewhat of a flop.
I had high hopes for August. “At least we’ll end the summer with a bang.” Three days into the month, I realized that wouldn’t be the case, well, at least not in the exact way I had planned…we were moving. Though this had been on the cards for a while, everything fell into place so quickly and we knew it was now time. My husband and I wanted everything to be settled well before the kids’ school started, so we knew we had to get going: cleaning, sorting, packing, moving, unpacking and cleaning and sorting again.
The apartment had a pool so every day without fail, we spent some time swimming. Besides that, though, the kids knew not to expect much from mommy, as I unpacked a box here, wiped down a shelf there, organized a drawer here and then reorganized it there.
By mid-month, things were looking good, just in time for school—my school, that is. After a 14-year break, I was starting college, with a high learning curve for one of the subjects. Personal studying and homework entered my life for the first time since I was a young teen.
Yet I felt a twinge of guilt every day that passed that I didn’t spend more time with the kids. “They’re only this young once,” I heard over and over in my mind—wise words spoken by women whom I couldn’t help but think they must have had less to do, and more time to just be with their kids.
Finally, my kids’ school began, and with it, my hopes for an exciting, fun-filled summer together went out the window. But did it really? Or was my perception lacking in some way?
We did go camping for the first time as a family.
We moved into a new place together, getting beds and shelves and setting up their own room for the first time.
Three birthdays feel within that time period; we planned a bounce house and skating rink for my son; a tea party, swimming and a movie for my daughter; and a family get-together for the third.
My sister and her boyfriend visited from overseas and my kids had lots of fun bonding with them, exchanging stories, and playing hide and seek in the house—a perpetual favorite.
We went swimming nearly every day for a month. My two older kids are now pretty close to being good swimmers—something I was inwardly hoping to make time for this summer, but had no way of doing so unless we had access to a pool.
Perhaps the things I had on my original plan weren’t accomplished, but that doesn’t mean I was a failure, or that the entire summer was a flop.
One evening, a week into their school beginning, I had managed to get a bit ahead in my studying. I read some stories to the boys, and then played with my youngest while my husband played chess with the older two.
It felt calm; it felt together, just like it should. After they went to bed, I worked on a project for them, something I know they will be excited about when it’s done.
This morning my kids were up early enough to read a story before they left for school. Afterwards, I sat with my youngest and we had fun with his early learning “school.” We then went for a walk together.
I felt like I was back in the groove of being a mom again, not a bad feeling. There are bound to be busy times ahead, but when I’m committed to give my kids the best of what I have—even if there are the inevitable other things to juggle—I know everything will work out great.
Just like what my daughter said about this summer, when someone asked how she enjoyed it:
It was the best summer ever!