Things are so much easier for me with older kids (a seven and nine year old). They still adore us but are getting independent with their own thoughts and opinions and are at such a great age for family adventure. We aren't rich in money but rich in life with good health, a comfortable house in a great neighborhood, and loving friends and family.
I spent so much of my time in the past worrying about our future health, how we are going to pay for Duke and Imp's braces and college, what was going to fall apart next in our house and cost big $$$, how were we going to save enough for retirement, etc. These anxieties about the future were taking away from my enjoyment of the present. My kids are growing up so quickly and my main concern now should be to enjoy every minute of our lives rather than trying to predict an unpredictable future.
A wonderful family with two boys moved into our neighborhood recently. The boys are eleven and thirteen, go to public schools, and are great kids. I think they are such wonderful kids because they have such loving parents (their parents actually hold hands as they go for their daily evening walk around our neighborhood, swoon!).
Their mother made a comment that really struck me. She mentioned that her top priority right now is being a good mother/wife and she is spending as much time as she can with her boys and has no regrets. She said when they grow up and move away she will be content and not have any "empty nest" issues since she will know in her heart that she enjoyed every minute she could with her family. She isn't concerned about her future career or retirement or having fancy things and is simply enjoying watching her kids grow up.
Then I read How to Really Love Your Child which was the BEST parenting book I have ever read in my life. Such simple ideas (like unconditional love, focused attention) yet so incredibly effective. I started using Dr. Campbells suggestions on my boys and I saw immediate results. The boys, my husband, and I are so much happier. I know it sounds too good to be true, but this book really changed our lives for the better and my only regret is I did not read it sooner. :-)
After reading that book and talking to my neighbor I was reminded of that story about the man trapped at his house during a flood. He prayed to God to rescue him. As the waters rose his neighbor offered to give him a ride in his car to safety and the man told him “I am waiting for God to save me.” The waters continued to rise and the man crawled on top of his house. Some neighbors came by in a boat and offered to help him and he again replied that he was waiting for God to save him. A helicopter flew over and offered to rescue him and the man waved it away, shouting that he was waiting for God to save him. The waters rose over his house and he drowned. When he reached heaven he asked God why he didn't save him and God replied "I sent a car, a boat, and a helicopter and you refused all of them. What else could I have done?"
I believe God has been gently telling me how to be happy and I just had to stop and listen. I really believe everyone is guided in some way or another, no matter whether you are spiritual or not, and you just have to take a quiet moment and listen and follow your heart. If you trust that inner voice it might reduce your anxiety and worries and help you live a more hopeful and happy life. "Stop and smell the roses" is not just a trite quote.
Taking this all to heart I decided that I am going to try to stop worrying so much about the future and spend my time enjoying this golden time with my family. This is difficult for a hard-core worrier like me and I know I will fall off the wagon at times, but I am going to listen to my inner voice more and appreciate our simple and joyful daily life.
My mom and I went fishing with the boys and everyone caught something except me. Well, I did catch some lily pads but I didn't bring them home. ;-) The turtle was also sent back to the water after I gently untangled the line off its leg while trying to keep from losing any fingers.
After he got home from work my husband filleted the catfish and fried it up for dinner. This was the first time the boys actually ate something they caught and they were so excited. It was yummy.
We don't have our own cat anymore but our neighbor's cat loves to visit. We spend a lot of time on our front porch relaxing, creating art, and playing games. I didn't realize Duke was in the photo until my husband pointed it out. He is looking out the window.
My super-frugal father actually splurged and bought this ATV so he could easily get around their acreage. He has worked hard his entire life (and is still working part-time in his mid-70's) and deserves a toy. Duke was the first grandchild to ride in it.
Imp lost a tooth!
Hiking in the woods is my favorite hobby (up there with reading). Nature really soothes me and I think it is so important for the boys to get out and experience fresh air, sunlight, and wilderness. Of course Blackberry gets to come with us. The rats (yes rats, we now have three and their story will be posted soon) stayed at home since the dog has serious issues resisting her urge to snack on them… I told her if she ever gets one she better swallow it instantly and not leave any evidence of her crime. Luckily the boys are militant on protecting their adored little friends.
Yesterday one of our neighbors set up his telescope and camera for the afternoon solar eclipse and let our family in on the fun. This is a photo he took with his little Canon. Wow! We actually got to see most of the eclipse happen live through his camera and it was so incredibly amazing. Look at the sun spots!
We have had so much fun these last two weeks and I made sure to take the time to really experience it. You can teach an old dog new tricks as long as the old dog wants to change. I know I will still get anxious at times but I am going to try to live a full and thankful life where I feel few regrets.
I hope you have a great weekend taking some time to enjoy your loved ones. :-)
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