Real you with kids

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Summer makes me realize how much my kids appreciate freedom. Freedom to dream, to be unscheduled. To go to camp and lose yourself in another world. For teens to sleep until noon-when we let them-and for younger kids to splash and play. Summer, with its lack of rigid schedules, leaves room for more creativity and more possibilities. It has given me the gift of thinking about choices. What will our fall be like, look like, feel like? Do we need to re-examine priorities? Will sports or school or other activities prioritize our lives, or will we grab control of those and strive for a better balance?

And what will the fall look like with my oldest going to college? That reality lingers over every thought, every activity, every splash. The ultimate expression of giving children both roots and wings of course, is when they flap those wings and become freshmen. What will that mean this fall for those of us he leaves behind? There is a Walmart commercial airing now that made me misty-eyed LAST year, and it's back. In the spot, a mom and daughter find all the supplies for the daughter's dorm room. Everything is set up, and the mom is walking away when the daughter runs and grabs her for one last hug. Cue tears. Mine.

But enough about me. My college-bound son has taken this summer as an opportunity to be at home "one last time". Usually he spends a portion of his summer in Maine at his favorite camp. But not this year. He's working, hanging out with his high school buddies and making Facebook friends with his soon-to-be fellow incoming freshmen. They're making plans, figuring out who is bringing what to the dorm room. I'm treasuring our time together and living vicariously through his excitement. I'm proud of him and it's great to have him here this summer. Of course, it'll make the fall that much harder, I know.

Summer freedom makes you realize that these special summers with your kids are fleeting. That time really does fly, much like your children do when you have given them the confidence to do so. And in times of transition-whether it's a child headed to college, a husband being laid off, a new baby-it is most important to remember to keep the real you at the center of your life as

a mom. Solidify your belief in yourself. The confidence to know you can handle change and whatever life brings you comes from there. I've been reminding myself of this during these summer days.

Because kids grow up. And when they grow up, which they do so quickly-almost as quickly as summers pass by in Columbus-who you are left with is yourself, your treasured memories and the freedom to treat every day as a summer day. Until that happens though, be free. Laugh. Squeeze your little ones, and indulge your teens' dreams of sleep. Play hooky from work and have a picnic with your kids, and then read a book on your back porch, soaking up some vitamin D. My hope for the rest of the summer is to keep finding the potential in freedom, to hold on to the knowledge that the next transition for my oldest is a positive one for all of us because we will make it so, and to treasure every moment my kids are growing this summer-in ways measured in height and not-as a dream come true. And remember, as I am doing, one of my favorite quotes by Hodding Carter:

"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings."

Kaira Rouda is a mother of four, author and entrepreneur. She's interested in writing, yoga and energizing women's lives. She's also been known to "honk" when laughing. To learn more, visit, follow her on Twitter , friend her on Facebook and connect on LinkedIn .