With summer coming on like a freight train, I’m already in planning mode. Summer offers the opportunity to slow down and maybe inject something special into our normal routine. I want my kids to look back on fond memories of their childhood, but sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to provide meaningful experiences.
When I was 9 or 10, my best friend and I went to see Tiffany in concert with our dads. If you don’t remember Tiffany, just imagine Miley Cyrus before she got weird, add some big hair and acid-washed denim, and you’ve got the idea. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the performance.
I remember my mom taking the time to crimp our hair before the show.
I remember my dad being willing to go to a concert he most certainly didn’t enjoy just so that I could have the experience.
My memory isn’t of the concert itself, but of the gestures that made it special.
Letting go of The Self-Imposed Standard
We are so saturated by social media, it’s easy to believe there’s no point in doing something if it can’t live up to the standard we’ve envisioned. We’re drowning in inspiration and surrounded by the creativity of others. It’s wonderful and exhausting at the same time.
Every time we host a holiday meal, I have ideas about how I’ll set our table. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with gathering inspiration from Pinterest, home decor blogs and magazines. Trust me, I looove Pinterest. The problem arises when my 9 year old daughter wants to make the place cards.
I have two options at this point. I can embrace her creativity and include her in the fun of hosting OR I can shut her down in favor of an option that will probably be more blog-worthy. My husband once wisely said, “Someday she’s not going to be living in our house and you can decorate however you want, but for now, let her be involved while she still wants to be.” Boom. Mic drop.
The truth is that more likely than not, there will come a time when my industrious little creator might not have any interest in helping make our table look special. Why would I want to hold her back rather than savor this time? I can’t think of a single person in my life who would criticize my table because of handmade place cards.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t Instagram or blog your beautiful table setting. I mean, that would be ridiculously hypocritical. But don’t let the real moments of joy and beauty pass you by because of an unnecessary (or even unattainable) standard.
Recognizing the Kairos Moments
In her well-known essay “Don’t Carpe Diem,” author Glennon Doyle Melton writes the following, “Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them… And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.”
A few years back, my husband got some free tickets to an Angels game. We were so excited to take our kids to a baseball game and share the experience with them. I’m sure the game was fun, but what I really remember is my son letting loose the most horrendous diaper explosion ever on our way into the parking lot. No, cleaning him up was not a magical kairos type of moment. But laughing with my husband about the situation on the way home definitely was!
Seeing the pride on my daughter’s face as she directs our guests to look for their names on her carefully hand-drawn place cards… definitely a kairos moment.
As I plan out the fun things I want to do with our kiddos this summer, I want to be careful to reign in my own expectations. Instead of worrying about mapping out memories, I want to make time for the story to unfold on its own. After all, the most memorable moments of my life weren’t carefully orchestrated, but they happened anyway.