This life is crazy and hectic and beautiful and messy and MINE. You would think at my age I would have it all figured out...But I don't! Does anyone and should we? What I do know is that when I don't stop to appreciate life and the precious cargo around me-things blow up like a blender full of fruit with no top on it... (I've done that- not pretty) One of the things I'm super intentional about is family time; no friends and no activities occasionally.... PERIOD.
The media (they always get a deservedly bad wrap)- and society tries to dictate how we parent, our rolls in relationships, and us in general. The worst part is that we buy in-we let them tell us how to think, behave, and be!! We put our 5 year olds on sports teams (this is not necessarily a bad thing) that make them gone 5 nights a week- and then can't figure out why they are crying or tired. I'm just as guilty as everyone else so I promise I'm not pointing fingers. Years ago one of my children was in a 'sport' and every week it was the same thing- tears and crying....didn't want to go. On one particular day I had had it... (think crazy momma unleashed-scary-not really but it makes for good imagery). I turned around and started basically yelling that I was NOT going to do this anymore. I then asked the question I should have started with....
ME "Do you want to do this?"
ME "Then why are you doing this?"
Child "I thought you wanted me to."
???? Seriously like at that moment, on that day, jumping off a tall building would have sounded like a better option to me (I'm seriously afraid of heights so NO GOOD). Anyway I turned the car around and we went home-novel concept. This particular child had no interest in that activity-yet I enrolled them because that's what all kids at that age participated in. What someone should have asked me is "so how's that working out for you?"
Was I nuts? (if you know me you don't need to answer that..you know the answer) I know that all kids are different- and different personalities and interests peek at different ages but I'm pretty sure that most kids don't want to be over programmed- they don't need to have dinner every night on the fly because Sally's family down the street never has dinner together- and the coach thinks little Jonny might have talent- he may even start in high school (he's 4).
We get it in our heads that if we aren't doing with our kids what everyone else and their mother are doing with their kids that somehow our kids won't play pro ball or be president! INSERT HUGE SIDE MOUTHED QUIRKY FACE! News Flash... your kid is probably not going to play pro ball and who in the heck would want to be president? Having dinner with your family every once in awhile may make the difference between them being happy and relational or feeling alone and isolated because their only involvement is other kids their age.
This is going to completely go against culture but I would rather get a sitter for my kids and go on a date with my husband to preserve our relationship than cart a crying kid around who just wants to be home anyway. I feel like we have fallen so far away from letting kids be kids that they don't even think it's ok to be anymore. I'm quite certain that my gun toting boys (toy guns I swear) that hang out in trees have scared (not really) more than one neighbor- but guess what-they're boys- and given the opportunity boys do boy things!
What I've seen in our family and our friends families is that when we all remove ourselves, occasionally, from the Rat Race of "What activity is your kid doing every night," and just try to be a family, we help to create their haven. We all must: STOP. LISTEN. BREATHE. When we do so we allow ourselves to be a family instead of an episode of Crazy Town (have you ever seen that show- kind of creepy). We give each other time! There is nothing more valuable than time- they won't be around forever. I'm certain that I will wish that I had more time with them when they go start their own lives. I'm positive that I'll wish I did some things differently, but I'm even more convinced that I will never regret occasionally taking the time to say no to activities to enjoy some family time. It's on those evenings we can all breathe and embrace our messy life.