Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox is in fact the title of the book that inspired this article.
With Just 18 Summers until their children are grown, the characters in this novel grapple with guilt and how precious time is. But this idea has dug so much deeper into my soul and I would like to tell you why.
I finished reading this novel on my travels to the 2:1 Conference in Chicago. Little did I know how speakers and friends alike at this conference would continue to echo some of my greatest fears about wasted moments.
*Thanks to Jamie from http://seejamieblog.com/ for the photos of the speakers.
- From Leah Neiman who spoke about kids and technology (or even more specifically social media) saying, “Communication is the best filter.” This to drive home how important it is for us to keep the communication flowing with our children.
- From Heidi St. John we heard about not getting caught up in comparisons. Urging us to find and create balance with our blogging and our families.
- From Ashley Wiggers we took home a message of taking the time you have and making it about the things that matter. She urged us to ask ourselves, “Am I teaching my kids that their best is always good enough?”
- From Sherri Seligson, the word intentional rings in my head. She encouraged us to be intentional with our words, because our words matter.
Over and over again a message of setting priorities, being present, not comparing, and making every moment count echoed in the words and sentiments of the moms around me at the 2:1 Conference. It even extended into the following week when I joined fellow Hip Homeschool Moms Team Member (and co-owner) Trish Corlew for the weekly Mentoring Moms show where we talked in the green room about our experiences at the 2:1 Conference the previous weekend and what we had taken away from it.
The conference was so much more than a blogging conference, so much more than a homeschool conference, it was a filling up of a mother’s soul.
Our children are put in our care for such a short time before we must set them free.
How are you going to spend that time?
You have Just 18 Summers to build up your babies, to mold and teach, to love and bond.
Just 18 Summers that will go by in the blink of an eye. We need to take a good look at what we want our children to take away from that time. Our children need our love and attention, our time and affection, our guidance and assistance, and the time is now.
Just 18 Summers weaves us a compelling message, from multiple ends of the spectrum. We see the family that thought they were present but time slipped away, babies grew up, and doubt crept in as to whether what they had done was enough.
We see the family who outclassed everyone, only to realize that the material things and top notch everything, might not be what mattered most.
Finally we see the catalyst to it all, a young girl, down a mother and struggling to help her dad find his way.
In the end what it has all meant for me is a feeling of renewed intent to be purposeful and wise about the choices that I amke. to stop for the little things, put down the distractions, turn on the timer, thus being engaged and fully present with my loved ones around me.
Just 18 Summers……food for thought, and a chance to reevaluate.
What matters most? How will you fill and enrich your children’s lives in those 18 summers?