Seasons of Parenting

Originally published in Abilene Families

‘Tis the season ... for something. Always. Right now, considering you are a timely “Abilene Families” reader, it’s the season to be jolly. On demand. Because the song says so, complete with plenty of Fa’s and La’s to go with it. It’s really hard not to be jolly while singing Fa La La La La La La La, so you may as well sing along and give in.

In a few weeks, it will be the season for resolving. On demand. Because the calendar says so. Whether you want to or not, it will be time to look ahead and decide to be a better you in the upcoming year. If you are having a hard time thinking of a way that you need to improve, you obviously don’t live with a teenager.

Soon that season will evolve into another, then another, and we will be back here again next year, wondering what happened to 2010. Life is simply a rolling tide of seasons strung together by heartaches and celebrations.

As a parent, many seasons seem to flow from one to another, rarely with much fanfare.  I do remember with clarity the first time I walked into a store and didn’t immediately have to dump $40 worth of diapers into my shopping cart. I also remember first walking into a store and realizing that no one in my house fit into toddler clothes any more.

The relinquishing of the pacifier still requires time with a therapist -- for me, not the child -- and  I did take note of walking home from elementary school for the last time with my youngest last year. But many other milestones and landmarks are missed as the seasons fly by, one after another.

One of my children recently requested to be able to try an additional sport next year. Our family reserved elementary school mostly for unstructured play time for our kids, and each child played one sport. Now that we have moved to middle school it has become a time to spread wings and try different sports and find where each child’s gifts and skills lie.

I was picturing what our life would look like during the time of this dual-sport season and it wouldn’t be pretty. But I reminded myself that “it’s only for a season”. One very brief, eight weeks’ long season of quick dinners and rushed evenings. ‘Tis the season ... for hurrying through life to wait for the athletics bus.

Dorothy Evslin is quoted as saying, ““It will be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.”

I know that no matter the season I may be in life, it will change by the time I realize where I put my keys. There is no time to sweat the small stuff, only time to soak in the laughter and sweep the annoyances under the couch with the dog hair.

This season, whether it’s time to be jolly or time to be resolving, I will do both. I will joyfully resolve to look around through the madness. I will enjoy the season with my family, for there will never be another exactly like it. It truly is the season to be jolly -- no Fa La La’s required.

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