Hi, friends! Have you missed me? I’ve been writing primarily at BetweenUsParents.com this year but I wanted to pop in here to encourage you to follow over there and most importantly, wish you all a very happy summer. School has been out here for a few weeks and I know a lot of people around the country finished this past week – I heard the collective sighs of relief.
The news lately has been heavy. Very, very heavy. The headlines have likely spurred many important conversations with your kids. It’s not an easy time to be a parent.
But it’s not all bad, either, and I’ve made a concerted effort to focus on the joy. Even in the hard times, there is much joy to be found.
I was reminded of that yesterday when I was at an event in Pontiac, IL, to kick off National Iced Tea Day. (National Iced Tea Day is actually tomorrow.) Pontiac is the home of the Route 66 Museum, 28 colorful murals painted on the buildings around town, great fried chicken, and some really good people I was fortunate enough to meet, like Mayor Bob Russell. He was even kind enough to let me take a selfie with him.
When touring the Route 66 Museum, I was struck by the items from the Depression, including posters about dances, picnics, community gatherings, and bottles of Coke. Even when times were arguably much harder than they are now, people found the joy. And they found it in the simple things.
And that’s still true today. When thinking about summer, most of my favorite things are simple – cookouts, sunshine, fun beverages, road trips, relaxed time with people I love.
And I’m hoping that my teen learns to appreciate simple things, too. I asked my family to make a list of their favorite things and they are all pretty simple, too, so we started a summer bucket list.
The event this weekend inspired me to add spending some time on Route 66 to the list.
I’m hoping that in doing so, she’ll not only experience a part of our nation’s history, but she’ll come to see a car not just as a way to get to school that’s cooler than the school bus, but it’s actually an exploration facilitator that can help you get out of your bubble and discover gems in small towns along the way.
For those of you in the Chicago area, if you want to do the same, check out the fun in Pontiac. The free National Iced Tea Event is going on in Pontiac tomorrow from 12 – 5 p.m. There are complimentary bites inspired by Route 66 gems (don’t miss the chicken!), and endless free Lipton Iced Tea, vintage cars and even a chance to get a selfie ice pop (yes, you read that right – ice pops with your selfie photo on them – teen dream come true!).
Whether it’s ice tea or another beverage that makes you happy, I hope you can raise a glass to all the good things in your life – the ones that bring you joy – and that you commit to savoring this summer.
While you’re at it, take a second to savor your kids. In his book The Available Parent, Dr. John Duffy proposes an exercise for parents. He says to find a moment when they’re in a public area of your home and occupied by something, anything. Clear your mind, forget about the latest frustration, take some deep breaths, and then just observe your teen. Soak him/her in. He says, “Breathe in the miracle that is your teenager,” be that through the perfection of their hands, the sound of their voice, the color of their eyes.
I admit that when I first read this, I was skeptical. But to my surprise, it worked. I softened quickly and was able to appreciate that she’s a good kid, one I’m very grateful to call mine.
“I’m encouraging you to see your teen with the same sense of awe and wonder you had when you first laid eyes on her,” says Duffy. This brief exercise can make you feel more grateful your teen and the simple pleasures like the , and remind you of things about them for which you are grateful. Because while parenting is work, it’s also a joy.
Here’s to finding the joy and letting it sustain us.
Disclosure: This post wasn’t compensated. I attended the National Ice Tea Day Event in Pontiac hosted by Lipton because it sounded like fun, and thought you might want a chance to score some tea, too.
Filed under: Parenting