Yesterday I said “tomorrow”.
Tomorrow I will be a better parent…a perfect parent. I will engage more. I will take a day trip with my kids. I will do a craft. I will read them a book. I will take them on a walk. I will feed them a vegetable. I will do all this tomorrow…because today has passed and I have done none of those things.
It’s August and the summer is coming to a close. I can feel the lump of anxiety in my throat as I think back and wonder if I’ve done enough to make summer memories for my children. It’s the same feeling I get on Sunday nights when I look at my schedule for the coming week and wonder where the weekend has gone. August is the Sunday of Summer.
Everywhere I look I see pictures of families having storybook summer adventures. Kids in coordinating outfits eating ice cream on the beach. The kind of “eating ice cream” photograph that shows the kid getting a little messy but not too messy. Just messy enough to show that they’re having THE BEST SUMMER EVER!
Meanwhile, my kids are on their ipads because I let them stay up too late last night and they are now unable to do anything besides whine and complain. I allow this lapse in screen time rules because I have a lot of stuff to do around the house. This is probably horrible parenting. This will not happen tomorrow. Because tomorrow I shall be perfect.
So, I lay in bed and think about all the memories I’m going to make with my kids the next day. I will make up for my lackluster parenting today. I will wow them with fun and excitement. I will relieve my guilty conscience by being perfect. New day, fresh start, I can do this. Summer isn’t over…yet.
I’m panicking about my missed opportunities for parental perfection to the point where I can’t even sleep because I’m too busy beating myself up. But…like…why? I have to stop and think: why do I feel all this pressure? Why do I have to be perfect?
Maybe it’s all the articles and blog posts out there reminding me how quickly time passes. “Parents! ACT NOW! Your kids are growing up and soon they won’t even remember you exist! YOU MUST ENJOY EVERY SECOND!!”
I shouldn’t read these anymore because, hi, I’m an adult and I get how time works. I do enjoy my children…most of the time. Stop reminding me of what I’m going to lose if I don’t spend every waking second making memories.
I want to cry just thinking about that. About how I “only have this moment with my children once”. Do I want my children to grow up without ALL THE MOMENTS?!?! I have to make these moments. I have to be perfect. Tommorrow.
My rational side kicks in and reminds me that I just took my kids on a two-week vacation to a beautiful lake. Doesn’t that count for something? So what if it’s 11am and I haven’t done anything with them today besides make them clean their rooms to earn Playstation time?
But then my guilt ridden “the internet told me I’m a bad mother” side reminds me that I have to enjoy EVERY moment. It doesn’t matter what we did last week. What have we done today? I have to be present and accountable 24/7 or my kids are going to be robbing lemonade stands by the time they’re 10.
I definitely don’t want that to happen. So tomorrow I shall be perfect.
Here’s the thing, though: Not every moment can be magical and filled with lifelong memories. You know that “dust if you must” poem? Ok, I get it. But if I don’t dust then my child with severe allergies will not be able to breathe. That’s not a sugar-coated childhood memory. And, yes, I know the laundry will still be there tomorrow. But we can’t go out and make super nifty memories if we’re all naked.
Maybe the answer is moderation. Maybe we can make the memories when the opportunity is there but maybe we can also sit around in our pjs and have a lazy non-memory filled day if we need it.
Tomorrow I will probably not be perfect in spite of all my intentions.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll simply be enough instead. And my kids will most likely survive.