Reading through an assignment for her small group on Tuesday morning, Alison was surprised at the emotion she was feeling. It had been years since her kids were that young. In fact, all her children were in college now. But, oh, how she would have done things differently! She wished she had created time to stain that play set. She wished she had planned their family time better. She wished that she had not bought into the lie that she needed to always keep her kids busy during the tween and teen years “so they wouldn’t get into trouble.”
As she sat there deep in thought the memories came flooding back–especially the warnings she had chosen to ignore.
She remembered a time when she and Mary Anne sat on the playground with their younger children while each of their older sons were practicing soccer. The season had been coming to an end and both moms had been ready for a slower pace. The coach had pulled a couple of the parents aside to offer their sons a place on a select team the following year. “Your boys are ready!” he said. “I hope they’ll choose to play with us. Let me know by the end of the week. We’ll probably practice some until it gets too cold.”
Alison had talked to several of the parents about what their decision would be for the coming season. Most of the parents were excitedly signing up for the opportunity for more playing time for the boys. They felt honored that their sons were “chosen” for the select team. Mary Ann had a different perspective though.
“What? You’re not going to let him play?” Alison couldn’t believe what Mary Ann was saying to her!
“No, Ryan and I are going to take Lily’s advice. You know Lily don’t you? She’s the woman down the street with the boys that are grown. Anyway, one day we had lunch together and she said if she could do one thing over as a parent, she would hold off on the intensive sports as long as possible. In fact, she said she would have really scrutinized the number of activities her children were allowed to be involved in.”
“She told me–family time. She felt like she was a marionette to her kid’s sports and activities schedules and she wished she had carved out more family time. She said she wished her family hadn’t always been in a mad rush to get to the kids’ events.”
Alison remembered blowing off Mary Ann’s comment about Lily’s advice. Alison knew her own children. She wanted them to be the best they could be; so she signed their son up for the select team.
As she continued to sit with her assignment opened, tears started rolling down her cheeks. She quickly brushed them away. It was so sad to think of what could have been. Just last week she had seen the neighbors down the street frantically trying to load the three kids in two different cars so they could be at two separate games at the same time. With Mom heading one direction and Dad heading another, poor little Samuel was having to choose which parent he would go with. She heard him begging to go to a friend’s house instead while his mom yelled at him to get in the car or else!
“Sports were good for kids,” she thought to herself. “It’s just that we chose to do too much. Oh how I wish we had put limits on them. Maybe there would be friendship between the siblings now if I had done things differently. All they seem to do is be on the go. I guess that’s what I taught them.”
Rushing…rushing…rushing seemed to be the pace of their lives once the kids hit junior high and high school. There was no time to model what family was all about. There was little time to do family things outside of the kids’ activities. If she had to do over, Alison would have saved time and taught the kids the joy of serving others–like staining the play set–together–to surprise dad! She would have found time to show them that the family was not only about getting them where they needed to be for their activities, but that life was also about balance–taking time to contemplate and enjoy each other.
As Alison was sitting there thinking about what could have been, she wished she had taken heed to Ephesians 5:15 at the time.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
As parents of tween and teens, we sometimes forget that others have walked before us and have wisdom beyond where we are at the moment. We buy into the lies of the culture that our kids need to spend every waking moment being busy and that we as parents need to allow it.
Dare you and your spouse to start talking about what the family needs rather than planning life around all the kids’ activities. Why not find a project to do together or serve someone else?
“Let go…and let God”,