Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Just 18 Summers by Michelle Cox and Rene Gutteridge

     Things have been a little busy around our house lately and the month of June will have a lot going on as well. Tomorrow is my daughter's senior prom and she will be graduating 3 weeks from today, with my niece graduating the day after. My husband's birthday, my mother's birthday, and my parent's 50th wedding anniversary are also happening this month. They are all happy events, exciting milestones and times to celebrate, cherish and enjoy. However these are also the kinds of events that can cause me to become a little more reflective and think about how quickly time passes. It is often very easy to get caught up in the busyness of day to day activities, work schedules, and long "to do" lists, and forget how important it is to take the time to slow down and enjoy the little moments that each day has to offer. Otherwise, years from now you could look back with regret and wonder where the time has gone.
     June is traditionally a month filled with weddings, graduations and the end of the school year. Since I am being a little sentimental (okay VERY sentimental) as my youngest child is about to graduate high school and start college, I decided to share a book with you today that I had read almost a year ago. It is a story that touches on how these types of events can impact the way you look at life. The book is called Just 18 Summers by Michelle Cox and Rene Gutteridge. This is a thought provoking story that asks you to realize that while the days may seem long, the reality is that the years go by quickly. In the end, we all have a limited amount of time to spend with our children and the ones we love. It is a reminder that while it can be a struggle to raise kids and have a career, it is important to prioritize, and to make sure to spend quality time with your children, teaching them, guiding them and most of all, creating loving memories. It makes you think about the fact that while you will always be a part of their lives, you are technically only given 18 summers to spend with them before they are officially adults and starting on  the journey of creating their own independent futures. The story reminds you to not get so wrapped up in the day to day things that need to get done, but rather to make the most of the time you have been given.
     The book tells the story of four families who are connected, but are at various stages in life. Butch Browning is a man whose wife Jenny was recently killed in an automobile accident and now he is struggling as he faces raising his daughter Ava as a single parent. The O'Reilly's are a young couple expecting their first child, and the pregnant wife Daphne is driving her husband Tippy a little crazy as she tries to prepare them for parenthood. She is reading every book and watching every video she can find on raising children.  She is letting her fears of trying to become the perfect parent overwhelm her. Helen and Charles Buckley have worked hard to give their children everything money can buy. The mom expected a lot from her children and wanted to have the perfect home, while the dad worked long hours and was often traveling for business. Their oldest daughter is about to leave for college, and Charles is starting to regret all that he may have missed while his children were growing up, so he becomes determined to create the best summer ever. Larry and Beth Anderson are facing becoming "empty nesters" as their son is about to leave for college and their daughter is about to marry a man that they don't approve of. The four couples are connected either through marriage, work, church, or the scrapbook group that Jenny had formed before her death. Their parenting styles are different, but their stories and lessons are interwoven. There are funny moments that will make you laugh, touching moments that will bring a tear to your eye, and insightful moments that will make you think about how brief the first 18 years you are given with your children really are. So as this summer is about to begin, I recommend getting this book to read as you lounge on the beach, enjoy the fresh air in your backyard, or just sip some lemonade on a sunny afternoon. But most of all, make sure you take time to enjoy some quality moments with your family and create the memories that you will all treasure forever. How will you spend this summer?

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