Holidays weren’t this long when we were kids
I’m sitting here at 9:50pm, the last of our three kids has finally gone to sleep and for the first time all day the house seems less chaotic. I have a glass of wine, some music playing softly in the background and I start to relax in this chair.
At last I’m feeling like myself again. It’s short lived, suddenly a thought pops into my mind, a question that I’ve been avoiding for days now. I push it to one side but I just can’t seem to shake it so I say it aloud. ‘How much longer before school holidays are over?’ I sigh exhaustively.
Am I the only parent out there who is thinking this? I feel terrible, I’m guilt ridden. God knows that true quality time with your kids these days is getting harder and harder to find. We’re working longer hours, doing more interstate business trips and our mobile phones are practically attached to our ears.
We’re contactable, pokeable, tweetable and taggable 24 hrs a day! It’s crazy but that’s reality. All that makes it sound even worse that despite the fact I have six weeks of pure and sacred quality time to spend with my kids, I’m counting down the days until school starts up again.
I sip my wine. Then I take a few more sips. There’s that thought again. So I sip a little more. Maybe it’s the drink writing now but I’m no longer concerned about whether or not I’m the only one who’s thinking it because I’m pretty certain that that’s not the case. Of course other parents are thinking it.
It goes without saying that we all adore our children and there’s nothing better than hearing a child laugh or seeing the look of pure happiness that only a child can show. It’s invigorating, it’s fun and it’s one of life’s true treasures!
But I’m a grumpy, cynical old person now. Older than my kids that is. We’re creatures of habit and routine. We detach ourselves for a time from the working world, the world of bills and commitments and all the other boring day-to-day things that we have to contend with as adults.
We switch off that side of our lives to do the right thing for our kids, to give our undivided attention – but school holidays are LONG! Were they this long when I was a kid, I’m nearly certain they weren’t?
Our children are little bundles of perpetually high energy, we can meet them at that level but only for a short time. We’re like the bunnies on the Ever Ready TV commercials, the kids are energized to the max and we’re running on empty. They keep going and going and going and we can’t even reach the finish line!
But still I feel guilty. Somebody used a term the other day that I hadn’t heard before, ‘Guilty Parenting’. They claim that nowadays parents go around feeling guilty about everything – they say we’re forever second guessing ourselves and questioning what we do - Do we spend enough time with the kids, are we teaching them the right or the wrong things? Are we not strict enough or far too strict? Are they eating right…
Apparently because of guilty parenting, kids these days have gotten used to us being around them 24/7 and people are arguing that kids don’t know how to make their own fun anymore like we all did when we were younger. Maybe there’s some truth in that! Irrespective of the argument, it still doesn’t erase what I’m feeling right now. I know how fleeting time is, these are the years that truly matter and before I know it they’ll be gone.
Recently somebody asked me if I ever played competitive squash and I said, ‘Yes I used to compete a lot’. In my head when I used the words ‘used to compete’ I genuinely thought of that as being a time not long ago – it was 20 years ago – when did those years vanish from my life?
I’m sure those of you with kids will agree with me when I say that while children help to keep you young, they’re also a visual reminder of how fast time is travelling. Babies become toddlers that become big kids - all in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t take long.
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