When I originally created this space in 2011, I wanted to tell families to live more.
I just seriously reject this notion that we are put here on this amazing earth to work more than we laugh, to work more than we explore, to work more than we spend time with family.
And so I’ve written many posts that attempt to take us down the path of awake living. My newsletters often talk about how I refuse to ever again have a case of the Mondays. How I want to play hide and seek. Or just let go.
All of this was good and fine.
And then last week I read this post on Free Range Kids.
Everything I’ve been thinking about, everything I’ve been writing about — completely solidified.
The author, who lost her daughter at 9 years old, writes:
My father made a remark, while we were still in the hospital and the grief was devastatingly raw. But it’s sticking with me, and I am finding some solace in it: “She might only have been nine years old, but she lived 20 years in those nine.” What he meant was that she had done a lot, experienced a lot and just..LIVED…while she was here. She rode horses. She rode motorcycles with her dad (always with proper safety equipment). She went to old-fashioned church camps where they played in mud pits and made their own slip-n-slides and jumped in the lake and roasted marshmallows on fires with sticks. She played competitive hockey. She practiced Karate and Jujitsu. She rode her bike to her friend’s house, a mile away. By herself.
I’ve written “what if we die tomorrow” posts but I also spend a lot of time writing about letting children be children.
Her letter makes me want to say YES to everything. Naturally, that’s not possible. But, upon reflection, I realize we have been allowing our girls to live fully and showing them how to stay awake to this amazing life we are living.
Isn’t that the best kind of childhood? Isn’t that the SECRET to raising happy children?
How are we doing that? Well, the phrase risk-taker comes up daily at our house. They have a true love for all four seasons. And know it’s OK to make amazing mistakes. They’ve written countless love notes. And, they’ve stood in awe of pink skies, double rainbows and amazing full moons.
And yet I was still left wondering, “Are we letting them live enough. I mean really live?”
What if they don’t grow up to be nine?
Gasp. My heart stops just thinking about the notion.
And yet, I know that living doesn’t begin when you’re 18 no more than it begins at 65.
Living is right now. At the first breath. At this very second.
Just let them be children.
A few years ago, my family began an Adventure Journal. It’s a very dusty — and I don’t even know where it is — journal that we got with the movie “Up” that I so really wanted to keep up with but haven’t. I wish we’d written more things down in it. I wish we’d put a little more time in the living in the now and less time waiting … Waiting on the right job, the right income, the right season, the right weather, the right alignment between the stars and the sun …
The letter the mother wrote shares the highest order of wisdom a mother can pass along to another — seize the RIGHT NOW and let our kids LIVE.
Just let them be children.
We don’t need a journal or a Pinterest board or any organized activity to live. Adventure happens naturally for kids — we just have to open our eyes to it and take a leap of faith that they will be OK.
My family may not get to Disney World anytime soon but wow have our girls had a full life so far …
- Climbing trees
- Painting canvases
- Traveling up 4K feet on a mountain
- Hiking down 4K feet from a mountain.
- Swimming under water like a fish.
- Holding kitty cats all day for the sheer pleasure of it.
- Building a snow fort.
- Roller Skating.
- Making good friends.
- Going on road trips more than 1500 miles full of laughter — and tears.
- Putting on dance shows.
- Swinging on a high bar and jumping on a trampoline.
- Realizing they love gymnastics.
- Learning to play piano.
- Learning that they hate soccer.
- Jumping in mud puddles.
- Honoring and respecting religions around the world.
- Counting to 200.
- Realizing they can write more than 100 words.
- Reading their first book.
- Climbing the Rocky steps in Philadelphia.
- Riding in a cab.
- Took wagon rides.
- Going creek-wading.
- Making magnificent messes.
- Building sand castles, wooden castles and drawing castles in the sky.
- Writing poetry. Tons of it.
- Lazing about in a hammock.
- Giving live presentations in front of classmates.
- Helping the needy.
- Singing in a choir.
This list is just a short list of all the great things my girls have experienced in their 6 years. I can’t wait to revisit this list each year so that I can inspire them to keep living life to the fullest as they get older. How about you? Can you list a few amazing life experiences your children have had so far? What’s left to add to that list before it’s too late and they grow up and leave and work takes over their lives?
Until then … carpe diem.