A few days ago, I read a post over on Eco-Friendly Family entitled The Parenting 'Bucket List', and it really got me thinking. You see, I am a goal-maker, a resolution-writer, a stuff-planner and a list-lover. Every year, I make a few New Year's resolutions, which usually include things like "Read more books," or "Ride x miles on my bike." And I have a "to-do" list app on my phone that I use daily to remind me about important tasks, calls, meetings, and chores I want to get done each day.
More often than not, I make good on my "lists." I don't think I'm overly structured. This is just a system that works for me — make a list, check it off, get things done.
So I was pretty astonished that I had never before thought of making a parenting "Bucket List." Sure, I have a list of personal goals that I check in on from time to time, and I'm pleased to say that I've accomplished many of the items on the list and have big plans to accomplish many more. But I've never thought of this in terms of the goals I have for parenting my kids. Things that I want to do with them while they are still young and not off living their own lives. Places I want to visit with them. Stories I want to tell them. Memories I want to share with them.
My list so far is a work in progress. I hope to add new things to it as new situations emerge and hopefully cross off a few things too along the way. Here's what I have on it thus far:
My Parenting Bucket List
1. Travel. I am a big fan of traveling. Of leaving one's comfort zone to experience new places, new people, new food and new vistas. For me, traveling expands the mind while zeroing in on the interconnectedness of every living thing on the planet. My girls have already done quite a bit of traveling, and when I first sat down to write this list, I thought of all the different places I would love to travel with them — places I have been like San Diego, Acadia National Park, Kenya, Ireland, and Holland — and places I would love to visit such as Greece, Brazil, Norway, South Africa ... I could go on and on. But when I really thought about the places that have made a difference in my life and places that I wanted to share with them, it came down to this: New York City, Alaska, Paris and Yosemite National Park. If we hit the other destinations, that's great. But these four locations are the ones that I really want to make sure to visit with my girls.
2. Write for them. As with any profession, the irony of being a writer is that I very rarely write things for my own children. I can pour my heart out in a blog post, but I don't even give my girls handwritten cards for their birthdays or holidays. I know a woman who has written letters to her daughters every six months from the time they were born, telling them all of the things she loves about them at each period in their lives. I've always thought this was such a beautiful and sentimental treasure she was creating for her kids. And while I don't know if I could commit to the biannual deadline, I would like to take more time to write to and for my girls. Letters, notes, cards and maybe even books. Even if they don't keep the actual pieces of paper, I want them to have a piece of me through my writing that will stay with them as they get older.
3. Find my voice and share it with them. What's that quote your mother always used to say? "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." Or was it, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Or something along the lines of, "Who said life was fair?" When my girls are older and thinking back on things I taught them growing up, I want them to have some short piece of pithy advice that they can turn to in good times and bad. I want them to be able to say, "My mother always told me (fill in pearl of wisdom here.)" The problem is that I haven't really discovered any of those pearls of wisdom yet, so I feel like all of the advice I give them gets drowned out in anecdotes and lectures. I want to find my pearl of wisdom and pass it on to my girls to do with as they wish.
4. Create a family recipe. My girls are no strangers to the kitchen. They have helped my husband and me make everything from chocolate crepes to sushi to a full-course Thanksgiving dinner. We've experimented here and there with spices and ingredients, but I can't say as though we have any true family recipes — the kind that are as nourishing for the memories they invoke as they are for the meal on the plate. I want them to have that, to have a recipe they can recreate whenever they need a little comfort of childhood.
That's my list — for now. Although I do intend to revisit this topic again in a few weeks, so we shall see if there are any new additions to the list.
Do you have a parenting "Bucket List?"
Related post on MNN: What's on your summer bucket list?
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