Grief is the price we pay for love.
- Queen Elizabeth II
School was out for the summer, and my girls were pretty excited about it.
Unfortunately, I was on a crazy tight book deadline and knew I wouldn’t be able to give them my undivided attention for a couple of weeks. As I typed away at my desk in the sunroom, Ally ate peanut butter crackers while watching Barney & Friends, and Abby sat on the floor next to my desk, coloring pictures in her new art book. After typing the last word to the chapter I was working on, I noticed Ab, even closer to my desk now.
“What are you drawing?” I asked my artsy 7-year-old.
“Pictures of our family,” she said, still coloring.
“Can I see it?” I asked in my fun Mommy voice.
Abby nodded and showed me her masterpiece. The picture featured Daddy playing a board game with her and Ally but I wasn’t in the picture.
“That’s very good, Ab,” I encouraged. “But where am I?”
Without missing a beat, she flipped the page and said, “There you are, Mommy.”
She had drawn me sitting at my desk, typing at my computer, all by myself.
That’s when it hit me: That’s how she sees me. I was the disconnected parent, on a different page in her life. I immediately shut down my computer, had a good cry, and promised God and my children that I would get my priorities in order. Thankfully, the girls were only 5 and 7 at the time when I got my wakeup call, so I didn’t waste any more precious summers. Now that my girls are 19 and 21, and Jeff and I are empty nesters, I would give anything for just one more summer with my girls.
Maybe that’s why when fellow author and friend Michelle Cox shared with me her idea of “Just 18 Summers,” I teared up as I heard her heart. Her vision for the “Just 18 Summers” brand came about after a baby dedication at her church. As her pastor finished up, he said to the parents, “Don’t forget–you have just 18 summers. Take time to make some memories.” Those words resonated with Cox. She was at the end of her 18 summers with her youngest son and knew how quickly the time had passed, even though she had made an effort as a family to have fun and make memories with all three of her sons.
While Cox first thought “Just 18 Summers” would just be a gift book, she soon discovered that God had much bigger plans. In April, the novel Just 18 Summers, written by Cox and Rene Gutteridge debuted, and has since won the Class Kudos Fiction Book-of-the-Year Award. It’s the first product of many, as Cox is currently developing an entire brand based on the “Just 18 Summers” concept, including: a screenplay, a complete line of books and products, curriculum for churches and music. In addition, Cox felt compelled to start a parenting blog this past January to encourage parents to make the most of those precious moments with their kiddos, as well as crafts and activities to do with your children so you can make the most of those precious moments.
“It’s a gentle wakeup call to remind parents that God has given us this precious gift, and those children will only be under our roofs for such a short time... Take it from a mama whose sons are all grown now, someday you’d give a million dollars to walk down the hall one more time and tuck your children into bed, to kneel down and pray with them, to hear their footsteps and the sound of their laughter filling the house,” Cox shares.
You don’t have to plan an expensive trip to Disney to make memories with your children, according to Cox. Making play dough in the kitchen or creating a giant checkerboard in the backyard will do the trick.
“These don’t have to be big trips or expensive things,” she says. “Sometimes big memories come from the little moments.”
Let’s make the most of those moments this summer and the rest of the year, as well. Because as Cox reminds us, our children won’t be around forever.
Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, with more than 60 books and 1,000 articles for newspapers and magazines to her name. She was won several SELAH Awards (best children’s book and book of the year for God Knows You in 2014 and best children’s book for My Big Book of Prayers in 2012), and her book Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood was named a Family Christian Bookstores Premiere Pick in 2006. When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers.
Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff. They have two college-aged daughters, Abby and Allyson, as well as a small petting zoo. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys cheering on the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies and the LA Kings. Find out more about Michelle at her website.