for release December 6, 2002
by Melodie Davis
Too Many Places To Go
Our youngest daughter was being inducted into the National Honor Society. It also happened to be the first pretty fall Sunday afternoon offering the possibility of a leisurely drive spotting some radiant fall color.
But the induction ceremony was placed at 3 p.m., smack dab in the middle of the afternoon. No time to go driving between lunch and before nightfall, which also happened to be the first Sunday of the end of daylight saving time. Dark would fall quickly.
As we discussed our plans, I said to my husband, "We can see pretty fall leaves every year. It isn't every year our daughter gets in the Honor Society." Of course we went and had a wonderful time, including hearing her sing in a small ensemble of six, which was a surprise to us.
While we probably made the right choice that day, I thought, no one really knows if there will be "another year" for both of us. I also thought about the fact that when I was inducted into the National Honor Society, the ceremony took place during the school day rather than Sunday afternoon. (It is a pity when our school calendars get so filled-and I know why they do, there is so much to cram in-that such things have to be held on a day we used to reserve for family activities.)
Since the ceremony for me took place during the school day, the audience was mostly fellow schoolmates-which is perhaps the more appropriate setting for such an honor anyway. I'm sure my farmer parents didn't take off work during the middle of the day to attend my ceremony. Maybe there were a few parents there. But held in a scholastic setting, it gives fellow students an aspiration or goal. As it was, on a Sunday afternoon, the audience was mostly parents and grandparents, who, as we all know, already know their child or grandchild is smart, has character, etc.
I'm not picking on our school. But I am picking a little on the mentality that says parents have to go to every event their child is in, or else they are bad parents. What ever happened to a child doing a sport or activity just for the pure fun and joy of it? I played basketball and volleyball in high school and two years in college. I don't think my parents saw more than two or three games or meets at the very most. They were very good parents-but the times were just different then. A few parents showed up for some games, but not very many. I played because I loved the games, to have fun, travel, and be with my friends. Frankly, having my parents there would have made me a lot more nervous. I wasn't that good. I know of some refs and coaches who wish that some parents would stay home from the events.
I was at my hairdresser and she had asked me about my weekend (which included making a four hour round trip early morning to help my daughter and her pals get from a drama event to a choir event. I know, I should preach to myself.) But then we listened as another hairdresser told her customer about her weekend, of rushing from one game to the next, and taking in only parts of each in order to put in a little appearance as needed. We all do these things, but maybe it is time to say to ourselves: I don't have to go to everything you are in. I will come to so many games or recitals, but there are things I need to do, too. (The kids may not care as much as you think, and they'll get used to it.)
This is okay, it really is. There is probably no better time of year to hear this message then December. Sure, you want to be there for your kids. You want to see when they sing, play, dance, or hit that goal. There will be things you will miss. But it won't be the end of the world, as long as you and they know that you love and support them.
I'm still going to go to as many events as I can fit in my schedule. I love going to football games in the fall and watching my kids play in the band. My colleague loves watching her sons play in soccer games. I love the concerts and plays, things to do, having special people to watch on stage. I will sorely miss it when they all graduate. They do grow up and leave all too soon. Maybe sometime there will be grandchildren to follow around.... But I do want to have a life! Don't feel guilty about not going to everything that is on the calendar.
And by the way, the color held on our trees for another week and we still got that traditional Sunday drive to see the leaves. Somehow it all works out in the end.
During these Advent days of waiting and watching for Christmas, take some time to just let something go. Cancel a committee meeting, or take off from work early. Grab some time to just relax, unwind, and enjoy Christmas. Take some time just to be.
For a free booklet, "Squeezing Prayer into a Busy Life," write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 895 words; end material = 105 words
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