Last Saturday morning we hired our first babysitter for all four kids while James and I headed out for a Saturday morning brunch. After a week of piling stresses that weren't making things easy at home, I took matters into my own hands and planned this brunch. Yes, it was two hours for James and I to have time alone, but with an agenda to look at the things not working in our day to day lives and make some concrete goals and find solutions to problems to smooth the way a little more. We sat down to eggs and sausage and toast and a bowl of fresh fruit and I opened my notebook and we began. We covered work, health, home, kids, marriage - we left no stone unturned. Because while it's easy in words to separate all the different areas of life, the reality is that they each spill over into each other and never fit into pretty little boxes. I'm a problem-solver; when something isn't working, I like to tackle it with practical solutions until it is fixed. Once breakfast was finished (and my favourite part wasn't the fact I didn't have to make it, but that I didn't have to clean up after!) we headed over to (yawn) the Dollar Store to pick up a bunch of household items on a growing shopping list. In a way, we were like two kids in a candy store as we picked through the shelves looking for organizing items that would keep a lid on some of the chaos at home. The morning was a success, and we are looking forward to doing it at least every other week.
Tonight we have a special dinner planned. James and I are taking Colin out to a real restaurant to sit down and discuss the coming year with him. In December he will turn eight, which is a big deal both in our home and at church. When he turns eight, he can make the choice to be baptized and dedicate his life to serving God. Our role as parents this year is to help him prepare to make that decision, ramping up his own personal accountability for his spiritual learning. We will be using our family night lessons to focus on baptism once a month. We are also going to increase his responsibilities around the house and in regards to his own learning and education. James and I have created a list we will present to him of things we will expect him to learn how to do on his own this year (everything from showering on his own to cleaning the bathroom to reading a chapter book to scripture memorization.) We will also present a list of optional goals he can choose from to add to that list, or add something of his own choosing.
More than anything, I believe that the main goal of raising children to to create independent adults. By the time Colin leaves home at 18, I don't want there to be any major skill he is lacking, and anything he wants to learn he will be equipped with the drive and ability to learn himself.
I can't express how excited Colin is to turn eight this year. You can see his little chest swell with pride at the idea of these more grown up responsibilities. He already has been quick to look for ways to help, as he states "because, you know, I'm going to be eight this year." We will be writing all his goals in a journal, which he will update weekly at a Father/Son interview on Sunday afternoons with James.
I love my children, and there certainly are many wonderful and fun moments when they are babies, toddlers and preschoolers. But I am so excited to help them as they grow, teaching, coaching, and walking alongside them.