We all have hopes and dreams. Most days, mine is some version of, “Can I just sit down?”
I don’t voice it very often, even to myself. However, sometimes in the middle of a busy day I’ll stop and try to remember the last time I sat down.
“Sit down” means something very specific here. I don’t just mean sitting down as I drive the kids to or from school, appointments, or extracurricular activities. I mean sitting down to recharge, restore, and get back up again, ready to go.
I used to complain more to my kids about stuff like this. I’m not sure why; they were too little to understand my exhaustion and frustration.
But lately, I’ve been thinking more about how they’ll remember me. They’re all now officially old enough to have memories of me. At this point, we are firmly into the territory of legacy-making.
The choices I make now are the ones that will inform my kids’ parenting.
What I say and do–and the way I say and do it–will become part of their rationale for their way of doing things. “I never wanted to do this thing my mom always did,” or “My mom used to do this thing and I liked it,” or, “I don’t know; it’s just the way my mom did it.”
Amidst all the other things I’m doing, add, “Cultivate a positive home environment for my future grandchildren and son or daughter-in-law,” sounds like a tall order.
However, I realized it didn’t have to be.
Every small decision I make creates something greater than the sum of its parts. Not articulating a complaint or finding another outlet for my day-to-day frustrations–and offering a kind reply or patient response in return–helps create an atmosphere of love that my children will be keen to emulate as adults.
Sadly, ‘How to have a happy family,’ isn’t a verbal lesson you can impart to your kids. Nor can you save it all up for the day they leave home, get married, or have their own children. I think it’s probably a lesson you teach them every day with your own decisions.
So yes, there are days I just want to sit down.
And sometimes, I will ask them if I can just sit down. However, I try to ask it in a loving, respectful way, and to not make requests like that too often, in a spirit of frustrated exhaustion.
Some day, they’ll be gone, and, if they’ll have me, I’ll go visit them at their houses. It’s that point where I’ll have the mirror held up to me, and I’ll see the fruit of the decisions I made in modeling parenting behavior. The songs and prayers I taught them, the rules we had, the values we instilled–will they have seen fit to continue them with their own children? Or will they have chosen a different path, either because they weren’t paying attention, found something that worked better, or didn’t want their children to have the same experiences growing up that they did.
When I finally have time to sit down, I’ll have time to reflect. Will I like what I see?
Of course, my kids are their own people with autonomy, especially once they’re adults. However, I’ll do my best in the present to help shape them into joyful, productive, kind people. When put that way, it seems worth missing a quick sit-down on the couch with Instagram.