My youngest daughter recently informed me she didn’t feel like it was really fall. Despite the front lawn covered in red and yellow leaves and the chill in the air, it really did not really did not feel like fall. She then asked why we didn’t go pumpkin picking or on a hayride like we used to when she was younger. I think her exact words were something like, “We don’t do ANYTHING fun anymore as a family.”
I have to admit. This hurt. Not just a little either. A lot. Like stop-me-in-my-tracks-eyes-welling-up hurt.
And although I knew she was exaggerating, it hurt. I felt like I had cheated. I had decorated the front of my house with pumpkins and gorgeous mums I had picked up recently at a farm, one I visited on my own in between carpools, swim practice and dance lessons. And although it looked fall, I get it. My daughter was right- it didn’t really feel like the fall we were used to. It’s less than two weeks before Halloween and no wonder why she feels this way. We haven’t done our traditional pumpkin picking trip this year. There haven’t been any hayrides, or pumpkin carving, or even a single trek to an apple orchard like we used to do when they were little.
All of our typical fall traditions have one by the wayside.
I felt terrible. What happened? How did this happen and who was I? I knew I used to be the mom who planned all sorts of fun fall activities when the girls were little, spending hours researching local activities. Activities for EVERY season. EVERY holiday. EVERY weekend. I would even share these activities with a local mom group in town. Now here I am, a mom to two teenagers, and not one single fall themed activity graced our calendar. Not even a trip to the local pumpkin farm.
I felt awful for about two hours, thinking my girls were indeed missing a valuable memory-making activity. Then I remembered something else… they are teenagers. TEENAGERS. Which is the exact opposite of a five-year-old who adores their parents and wants to spend valuable time with them. When I planned a family beach day for all of us this summer it was not easy
forcing encouraging them to spend an entire day with us, their parents. You would have thought I suggested we shovel dirt in a prison camp, the way they reacted when told we need to spend more time together as a family. But once at the beach they loved it and it ended up being one of our favorite days this summer.
When fall arrived, I did try and find time for pumpkin picking and hayrides, and apple cider, but of course every weekend was overbooked with swim practice and dance lessons and friends. Junior High and High School life is busier than ever. Between activities and homework, they are exhausted all the time. Carving out family time is harder and harder, as we compete with friends and social media. Our designated family day on Sundays has been spent cleaning out my mother in law’s home lately, so when a rare scheduled day off provided me an opportunity to stroll through a beautiful farm I had wanted to visit for some time, I drove out there alone and picked up some pumpkins.
I thought nothing of it as I placed the pumpkins on our front doorstep.
Until this weekend. And my daughter’s wish. And family traditions.
So, I quickly researched like I did when they were younger. They are not five and seven anymore, so our activity needs to change a bit. We also have a new addition to our family – a four-legged kind – so I wanted to find a fun activity which would include all of us. And although my husband was away this weekend, and we found out that dogs aren’t allowed in a pumpkin patch, we did find a fun activity. A fundraiser to support a local pet shelter. Delicious homemade dog treats, pumpkins and puppies, it turned out to be a fun event, and one we felt good supporting.
It was a quick family outing, just us, but we laughed, and made special memories. Something which my daughters will hopefully remember.
I know friends are important during this time of their lives, and family activities will always be hard to schedule, but I’m going to continue finding ways to spend more time together. Their lives are changing, and they are growing up. They want to spend less time with us, and more time with their friends. They will push back, I know, but I won’t give up.
I will keep our family traditions alive no matter how old they get, and along the way, we will make new ones…