Can I be honest? All the memes in the world about cherishing each day with your kids are a little annoying. The most recent one that rankled me was this: “There are only 940 Saturdays between your child’s birth and them leaving for college.”
Gah! I know the intent is that we shouldn’t squander the time we’ve been given with our children while they are at home. I know these well-intentioned reminders encourage us to get off of our phones and laptops, schedule fewer activities, and simply enjoy our kids.
Still, these motivational memes sometimes feel less like encouragement and more like guilt. I cannot possibly love and cherish every moment of parenting. Neither can you. Parenting is not all rainbows and unicorns. Raising individual people with individual personalities and individual quirks takes so much emotional energy. Infants are needy. Disciplining toddlers (and preschoolers, middle schoolers, and teenagers) is exhausting. Honestly, 940 Saturdays feels SO LONG to someone who is sleep-deprived or who drives from one activity to the next.
So instead of feeling like time is slipping through our fingers or feeling pressure to take advantage of every single moment because time is short, let’s relax and remember:
1. Parenting is a big responsibility, but it’s not all your responsibility. I can’t possibly teach my children everything—and you can’t either. Parenting is simply laying a foundation. While my husband and I do have the responsibility to teach lessons that prepare our children for life, life has far more lessons planned for them. It’s not all on our shoulders. Think of just how much you learned after you left home.
There’s a bonus too. For people who believe in Jesus, you get the peace of knowing that your heavenly Father is watching over them and has plans for them. We simply have the joy of telling our children about their faithful Father and Savior-Brother—and letting the Holy Spirit do the hard work.
2. Parenting is lifelong—and then eternal-life long. My friends whose children are grown will attest that you never actually stop being a parent. You continue to pray for (and worry about) your kiddos even when they are no longer, by definition, “kiddos.” You take care of grandchildren. You answer the phone when they just want to talk. You get more time with them (by the grace of God) than simply 940 weeks on earth.
There’s a bonus here too. For people who believe in Jesus, because you are part of God’s family, you get the peace of knowing that the Savior is preparing a place for you all to live for an eternal amount of Saturdays.
That puts things back in perspective, doesn’t it?
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who has one kiddo who will be leaving for college in 67 weeks (give or take a few).