Let’s Stop Telling Parents “There Are Only 18 Years”

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Parents know having kids is inexplicably hard and magical at the same time. One minute you feel like you are rocking it and the next you want to just hide in your bed under the covers. These feelings can happen daily, hourly, or by the minute. Motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood is no walk in the park.childrenRaising tiny humans to be good people is hard work. That’s why every time I hear or read “You Only Have 18 Years,” “You Only Have 18 Summers,” and “Cherish Every Moment,” a wave of guilt runs over me. When you put it like that, wow, it seems like the time goes rushing by. I think to myself, Am I making every moment count? However, do today’s mothers and fathers really need an extra dose of guilt? Should the internet and well-meaning friends constantly remind us that we should be doing more? Should we be making parents feel that if they aren’t constructing magical childhoods for their children that they are doing it wrong? If they aren’t enjoying every minute of the day that they are somehow ruining memories? Nope.

While it is true that we only have 18 years with our children, it’s also true that making every 9,460,800 minutes of those 18 years count isn’t always easy or even possible. Parents get burnt out—divorced parents don’t see their kids every day, single parents are doing double duty and many working parents are out of the house for a good portion of the day. We can’t be “on” all the time. It’s just not humanly possible.

When your toddler throws a temper tantrum in a public place or your teenager gives you one too many eye rolls, you don’t have to enjoy it, in fact you probably want to speed those few minutes right up. Parenthood is made up of moments that aren’t exactly fun, enjoyable, picture perfect or memorable, and that’s alright. That, my friends, is real life. That is parenthood.

And guess what? Parenthood doesn’t end after 18 years, it lasts a lifetime. Let’s work on cultivating a relationship with our kids now where they want to spend time with us after age 18, where they want to talk to us on the phone when they are away at college and where they want to see us as much as we want to see them.

Let’s slow our roll with the “You Only Have…” memes and instead come up with a catchy one-liner that tells parents it’s alright to not enjoy every moment. Even better let’s just plan on raising good humans for 18 years and beyond.

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Lauren is the proud mom of two spunky little boys, wife and business owner. She holds a Masters of Business Administration degree, is a marketing communications professional and owner of Auriga Marketing. While she was born in Phoenix, she grew up in Temecula, California and moved back to attend Xavier College Preparatory. After high school she ventured to Denver for college (and skiing) and then on to Honolulu a couple years after graduating. She and her husband returned to Arizona in 2012 and made Central Phoenix their home. They love to travel and experience different cultures, having a deep appreciation for a warm beach and sand between their toes. When she isn’t chasing after two boys or playing with their overly energetic dogs, she can be found working on a home DIY project, trying out a new recipe or planning their next family adventure. Oh, and she is also a firm believer that chocolate should be its own food group!

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