We really want to be the best parents ever. This isn’t a terrible longing when we use it to make good choices for our family, but I think it’s the main reason we’re all stretched too thin on time, on money, on rest.
We make a choice, probably a good one that we wanted to make (like homeschooling for us), but then we have another choice (extracurriculars? choir, sports, scouting, musical instruments, field trips; co-ops/classes? science, history, math club, arts, writing), and each of these choices come with more opportunities and choices (games, performances, social activities, parties, tshirts, trips, etc.). Now we’re making several choices a month instead of that one initial choice, and each choice gives us the opportunity to doubt whether or not we made the best choice or if our child is now somehow missing out.
Homeschoolers hear this whatever choice we make (what about socialization/prom/pro sports/college?), and most of the time I don’t think most of us stress the “big stuff” because we know that what we’re doing is more valuable for our families (not your families, public/private schoolers, you be you, no judgement here) than whatever it is we’re supposedly missing out on. But it’s the little things that have us doubting ourselves and borrowing against time or money that we don’t have. Should we get this activity t-shirt they’ll never wear? Should we try to squeeze in sledding tomorrow? Do we want to do that park meet up? Study sessions? Private lessons? Birthday parties?
It was the activity t-shirt question that got me today. It was just innocently sitting in my inbox, not intending to bog me down, but it did because I debated whether they would be missing out. I had no need and no desire for probably ill fitting choir shirts that cost more than an Old Navy tee but get worn significantly less. But I stopped and I wondered anyway because I want the best for my kids.
But then today as I drove around with my napping boys waiting for choir to end, I remembered that this is a decision that doesn’t matter. Most of these little bonus questions will make absolutely no difference in ten years.
These are the things that feel big, but aren’t. Sometimes the most important things are the ones that feel small. Reading one more story, letting a wiggly little one with cold feet snuggle in your bed on a Saturday morning, movie nights, a little note or text to show your thinking about them–these are the small things that make the big difference. Would your child be playing in the Philharmonic if you had signed up for those private violin lessons? Maybe, but in the realm of eternity that will mean nothing if you don’t take the time to communicate your love and the love of God to your child.
This is your reminder and this is my reminder that almost every opportunity that’s in your inbox, mailbox, and backpack is not as important as the opportunity to connect. I’m not condemning activities. We participate, too, but when it’s stressing you, your children, your spouse, or your wallet, it will never deprive your child to say no to an activity in order to say yes to a relationship.
What’s your kid’s favorite family activity?