In the past few years, I have seen posts doing the rounds about only having “18 Summers” with our children. The point of these posts being that we only have 18 summer holidays with our kids, and that somehow we need to make sure these summers are magical, perfect, and special, because when our kids turn 18 we won’t see them again. (ok, I am being sarcastic on that last bit)
Frankly, it’s just another social media guilt trip to put on parents, mothers in particular. Yes, technically, we only have 18 summers until our kids are officially adults, I can’t deny that. But other than that, it means nothing to me and I don’t plan to make the summer holidays any more magical because my kids will be adults.
Here’s the thing.
I parent 24/7/365. The summer holidays are intense because my children are home with me, as the person who currently works less hours than their dad, and from home, more, for the summer break.
I spend a lot of time with them, and we do nice things, but I don’t need more pressure on me to make something out of the summer holidays that doesn’t need to be.
It’s a break from school, and the normal routine. We like that. There are things we can do, together, that we don’t normally do. We like that too.
But I am not going to make a huge effort to pander to the the theory that suddenly when my kids are 18, the summers will be over, and that they won’t want to see me, or that they or I will regret that I wasn’t the most amazing, magical, treat providing, spending all my time finding things for them to do, entertaining them, spending money on them, Mum.
My own mum didn’t and I have no bad memories of that. In fact she died, the winter after my 18th summer, and my only regret is not being able to tell her what a great mum she was, and that I know she did her best for us. I have lovely memories of my childhood, lots of them, but not specifically of my summer holidays, and that’s ok.
Motherhood, in it’s current state, is hard enough, without people piling on this imagined thing that I need to make the summer holidays amazing so my kids remember that instead of the fact that their dad and I have worked hard to feed, clothe, educate, provide them with nice things, care for their health and emotional needs ALL YEAR ROUND.
Also, my kids are now of an age where they don’t want to be with me, and that is NORMAL and HEALTHY. They are keen to spend time with friends, go to clubs and activities, see their grandparents when they visit, and also to basically be left alone to read, play, and watch their favourite tv programmes. Whilst we do have plans for the summer, there is also a decent measure of my kids keeping themselves busy, or being not with me, and I am cool with that, and both of them are too. I don’t feel guilt that my tween has asked to join a dance club with her best friend from school for a week next week, and I won’t see her for most of the days of that week. (she will be doing lots of exercise, learning new skills, being with her friend, how horrible am I to facilitate that for her instead of making her spend time with me!!)
When my kids turn 18 don’t expect them to suddenly never want to see me again. I am sure they won’t be around as much, and I certainly hope they will have lives of their own and I expect that this will develop over the next few years, and I will adjust and be fine with that and so will they.
So, there is no extra fuss about the 9 and 5 summers I have left with my kids. We will enjoy them as they come, I will do what works for us, and my kids will not be damaged if I don’t go all out to make the summer holidays about more than they already are.
No guilt here. In fact, I think the summer holidays are too long, but that is a blog post for another time… 😉