With the new school year starting, I've noticed how my high school friends are sending their kids off to - COLLEGE! My kids are in 3rd and 5th grades. It reminds me yet again how Kentster and I are not quite like the other parents at orientation night. We are certainly not the "oldest" parents and there are others like us, but we do tend to be on the upper end of the spectrum.
We didn't exactly choose to be parents later in life. I remember in high school that my goal was to be done having kids at 30. I had good reason - my parents were "older parents." I'll never forget my first day of elementary school when the kids thought my white-haired dad was my grandfather. I was sure I didn't want that for myself. However, that wasn't God's plan for our life. We went through years of infertility before our kids were born.
Today I look at all the moms in their 20s and 30s and admire how much energy they have. Many of them are very involved with school and extracurricular activities. They have great hopes and expectations for their lives and those of their children. Being in their company keeps us young. I may not be any more experienced than they are at being a mom of an 8 and 10 year old, but I do have a little more wear on the tires of life. So here's some things I learned/observed (and still tell myself):
1. You can't schedule your life too far in advance. The best laid plans seldom go exactly the way you expect and it's a waste of time to pretend you have that much control over the future.
2. Speaking of control, lighten up a little bit. As my son's teacher said recently, college recruiters don't look at your child's 5th grade scores.
3. It's OK if children don't get to take as many dance (instrument, gymnastic, language, sports, personal enrichment) activities as you would like. They will still be well-balanced people.
4. If kids don't have a college fund, don't worry about looking for vocational schools. Many of us went to college (or more) without a college or trust fund. College has always been expensive compared to middle class incomes, but we still made it through, right?
5. It's OK to be a SAHM (or not), even if it is only for a while. College degrees and professional careers don't expire. You can go to work without being a bad mom. Don't let society dictate what is best for you and your family.
6. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because kids are here, life (marriage, parenthood, careers, health) will be smooth sailing through the retirement years. Life is inherently bumpy with sudden drops, starts and stops. That also describes a roller coaster and they're still fun!
7. It's never too late. There is no timetable that dictates when life events will occur. You can go back to school, change careers, downsize or upsize, move to a new place. You are not locked into anything but being the best spouse and parent you can be.
8. Save what you can for the future - not just for the kids, but for YOU! Retirement seems very far away when you're 26 with two kids, but it will come.
9. The best families are not defined by their household income, the cars they drive or whether the kids have the newest/best clothes/toys/furniture. The best families are families who love each member exactly as they are.
10. Finally, don't forget about God and make sure the kids know enough about Him so they won't forget Him either. He won't forget about you.
I'm polishing my old lady glasses now and will return to my rocking chair. Hope I didn't preach too much. I'm not sure I would have listened, but I wish someone would have told me some of these things when I was younger, even before I had kids.