Wednesday, July 10, 2019

the greatest summer of their lives

I remember when my kids were all this age, and our summers consisted of checking things off their wish lists for the season.  Their lists would include things like sleeping on the trampoline in the backyard (I said yes, they always chickened out!), watching all the Harry Potter movies in a day or two, going to see a movie at the theater, going to the children's museum, going to the zoo with Pappaw, going out for ice cream, going to our town square on a Friday night and exploring the trains, shooting fireworks with Big Daddy, spending the night with Mimi, and other fun and simple things that cost little to nothing.  Keep in mind, we always had friends over, and we usually went on a trip with Todd's parentals for at least a weekend, and those were the days. 

I had NO IDEA at the time, that these days would always be what I look back on as the glory days.  We were so prone to jumping into the Suburban at the drop of a hat for a trip to the pool, the splash pad, or local park loaded down with all the essentials for a picnic.  We did something fun almost every single day.  I would take a break for one day a week and let them have one friend over, and I would spend that day cleaning and catching up on laundry.  Young moms, if you are reading this, savor these moments.  They are fleeing.  The days of being able to plan out their activities were the best days ever. 

I write all that to say, that once they hit a certain age, this will no longer be the case.  I listened to a podcast last week (The Big Boo Cast by Sophie Hudson and Melanie Shankle) about how the days of going to the pool with your kids was over before you even could blink.  The "lasts" sneak up on you.  The last time the boys and I swam with my mom-in-love, I think Jonah and Noah were thirteen, maybe fourteen at the oldest.  I had no idea they would no longer want to do that so soon!  And when they were that age, it was just those two going with me, Graham and Drew had long since stopped going.  What happens to them is the fact that with their driver's licenses comes great freedom.  And that has been the case this summer. 

I cannot count the times Jonah has said to me since March 11th (the day they started driving), "Hey, Mom, we're going out for dinner with friends tonight, so don't worry about making a big meal."  I mean, I know that in a way, that sounds so nice, but I'm thinking, where in the world did my babies go?!  I know I say it all the time, but this phase of life is so weird.  They have money in their pockets, and they have options on which vehicles to drive at any given moment.  They have it so good! 

This summer they have had the greatest time of their lives, hanging out with friends.  Some of their friends are ones they've been around forever, but they've made several new friends in recent months, and you have NO IDEA what that does for my heart.  This entire year (from last August until right now) has been a huge struggle for them at church with the youth.  The changes that have taken place have been huge, and hard for them to walk through.  With that being said, this summer has been full of hope for them. 

I remember being this age, sixteen, and in my first summer ever of driving a car solo.  Those were the greatest days ever.  I know Graham and Drew would say the same thing, about their first summer of driving without parents.  I am so thankful for my dad instilling in them around the age of nine, a love of driving anything and everything they could.  And I am so glad that my husband would always work with Jonah and Noah on driving with him, because this time it was something that was so hard for me.  Graham made it so easy, and I think it got harder with each permit they got at age fifteen.  It's not easy, teaching teenagers to drive, but it is necessary.  The goal is to let them drive all they can, that way they'll be totally confident by the time they go back to get their license. 

Next summer will be good, too, but it won't compare to this summer, when the excitement over driving alone was fresh.  We let them go out every single night, as long as we approve of and know who they're with and what exactly they're doing.  They go out to eat, they hang out at Sonic or Chick Fil A, they go to friends houses, they swim with friends.  It's nothing extravagant they ask for, but we let them enjoy their time off from school, and we let them go all they want, within reason.  Occasionally we will do something as a family of six, like we did last Thursday, but we let them enjoy being sixteen.  We've never been the type to micromanage or hover over them, and so far, it's worked for us, with our sons.  Just last night, Todd was sitting in the living watching UFC fighting, and Jonah and his friend came downstairs to eat a snack and hang out.  When he got up to go to bed, the friend of Jonah's talked him into staying and hanging out with them.  Todd was telling me this before he left for work this morning, and he was telling me he never would have said no to that request, because that doesn't happen all the time. 

We are soaking up these days, needless to say, as are they.  I know my time with them like this is getting shorter and shorter, and I don't want to take it for granted.  One final, and random thought: I am so glad that their childhood days like in the picture at the top of this post were before the days of social media.  I could never have competed with what young moms today face. 

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

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