Hope in the Midst of Life ~ October 2018
It’s my favorite season of the year; cool crisp nights and chilly mornings with warm golden sunshine in the afternoons. It also means beautiful colors and warm sweatshirts, and children starting another year of school.
The school year means reorganizing schedules and marking time. It’s an interesting concept, this “marking time”. We pack bags with supplies for the year ahead and we often are forced to get new clothes because the kids have grown. Many families take pictures on the first day of school, and schools often have a picture day. These things we do each year are ways of marking time. I invite you to consider how your family marks time?
When I was young, I heard older people talk about having regrets. Regrets?!!! Well I was going to live my life in ways that would guarantee me none of that! The other reoccurring message I heard was always about enjoying “your children now, because they will be grown before you know it!” One of my parenting goals became never being able to say that I could have held my children more. Countless times I sat with my babies in my arms breathing the moment in deeply, trying with great desperation, to create memories that would still be strong when they were all grown up. I did that one thing with no regrets. But … If you’d ask if I have regrets – even though I have lived my life always working on NOT having them – I’d have to say I have many. Most of them come from wishing “I knew then, what I know now” – as they say.
If I knew then what I know now, we would have celebrated more! Oh, don’t get me wrong, we celebrated! But I would have made an even bigger deal of all the good things, and we would have celebrated surviving the difficulties in ways that would mark that we made it, with more hoopla and joy. What marks events and accomplishments in your family? What marks surviving in your family? The great news is, it can be whatever you want it to be! You can have a meal, you can give a gift, you can write a note, you can take a trip. These things sound like they could take a lot of effort and a lot of money, and they could. But another thing I have learned is – it is not big events that make our lives truly happy. It is the things we do regularly with people we love, that make our lives happy and joyous. This starts to sound like “tradition” to me.
It is in tradition that we find comfort. Tradition is how we all mark time. When my own children were young and one of them had a hard day, we would often go to the reservoir and skip stones. That option to go skip stones when things weren’t great was a joy making tradition. It marked that day with something we could do to feel better and celebrated that we had survived. We usually ended up talking in the process!! That is just one example.
So this fall, consider how you mark time and the traditions you have. Maybe you would want to ponder about regrets, and not having more of them. One of these nights, maybe at a campfire, or over a cup of hot chocolate or cider, consider making a plan for celebrating more joy moments in your life with family traditions. You won’t regret those times you mark and you will make a treasure of memories for your children.
Janet Miller MA LPCC