I was just visiting We Are THAT Family.
I was reading down the list of parenting advice and came across #21. It said to ask yourself WHY you are doing something and HOW DOES IT BENIFIT our family.
So I decided to talk to Ben and our oldest two children. I asked if they could pick our family trips, where would they like to go. Funny how none of the places they’ve been to (except the beach) were on their long lists! It isn’t that we don’t want to see our families (they weren’t on the lists). Some of them have joined us on our adventures. We just decided that we want to be intentional with the time that we have left with our children. We want to take them to places they’ve never been and have experiences with them they’ve never had.
Andrew’s big dream is to go to the Gulf of Mexico. We are big beach lovers though we haven’t had the opportunity to go there very often. Sammy, our 4 year old, has only been there once and he was only about 9 months old. That was the first and only trip so far for our 7 year old.
Something you might not know is that I became a lot more motivated to change how we lived two years ago. We went the week after Christmas for a joint family trip to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia with my youngest sister and her family. They have two girls just a little younger than my daughter, a son a little younger than my oldest and another son the same age as my 7 year old and had my adorable niece on the way. Our families are close, in age and love. That trip was a real eye-opener to me. It felt so good to experience something new while building strong bonds with our families. It felt especially good to watch my kids growing close to people they already loved but didn’t know that well.
Now my sister and I talk and/or text every day and we see each other every year at least once. Our relationship really matters to both of us and it’s evident in the effort we put into it. If you have someone you want a better relationship with, reach out to them and make a real effort. Phone them…text them…write them…visit them. It really does matter.
Two months later we learned that one of my older nieces had brain cancer. That rocked my world. I had just sat with her, hugged her, told her how much I loved her and cried when we had to leave them. It didn’t seem possible. I flew to their place to help with the other children while my sister and brother-in-law sat at the hospital for the incredibly long surgery and wait. It meant so very much to me to be able to do that for them. To be able to be there for my sister and her wonderful family when they needed me. It has been a very long two years of battling.
This past summer, my niece was well enough to make one more family trip and we all met halfway for a four day holiday in Pennsylvania. It was wonderful! There were a lot of problems as is the case when you travel last minute and with nine kids, don’t get me wrong! But it was sooo worth it to be together again in a way that might not be possible again. We all knew why we were there so we made the most out of it and did all sorts of crazy things! We learned how to geocache and letterbox, and swam and went on tours. Whatever we could fit into our few short days. Mostly though, we shared ourselves. Told stories of growing up and laughed and cried together.
This past Thanksgiving, my niece had a kind of stroke because of her newest tumor. It has made things even harder for her and she was also given a terminal diagnosis. She turned 14 on Thanksgiving day. She wants to visit our house, she’s never been here. I want her to desperately. I told her I would do anything in my power to make things easier on her. She is too sick to travel this far though so I made a trip there so we could spend some special time together.
Planning that trip broke my heart. Partly because I was afraid she wouldn’t make it to our spring break which was the earliest I could make the trip and partly because I knew it could be the last time I ever saw her in this life.
I know that when her time comes, people will say things like “it’s God’s plan,” and “she’s in a much better place now.” Sure those things give you comfort but honestly I want her here with me. Here to celebrate her sweet sixteen like my beautiful daughter gets to do this year. Here to kiss a boy for the first time…to dance with a boy…to turn 18…to move out on her own. I want her to be able to travel the world and have babies….I want her to LIVE! But this is not my decision. I don’t even get a voice in it. Though that hasn’t stopped me from praying just about every day for the past two years that God would please reach His healing hands down and get rid of this cancer that is destroying my wonderful, loving and perfect niece.
And so, I have decided that I am going to live intentionally. Not the way a lot of people mean…making sure they use their money and time to the best of their ability. I am going to live with the intention of making every single moment with my husband and children count. There are no do-overs in life. Not really. There are sometimes second chances but there’s no guarantee on that. I am going to work daily to be sure that the people that I love and that love me (the real me), know how important they are to me…that I love them…that I think about them..pray for them and want to be a big part of their lives.
I have decided that we are going to work on those dreams our kids have and Ben and I have. We are going to live our lives because not everyone gets to do that.