Nearing the end of the last school year I was eager to dive into summer, eager to have lazy mornings in jammies, and grand afternoon adventures, taking us into the late evening grazing on an array of barbecue and watching the kids ride bikes in the cul de sac till dark. I had ‘summer goals’ of facilitating a little bit of ‘homework’ every day in hopes of keeping them ready to move up to the next grade when the school year started. We would make awesome, Pintresty crafts each week, have s’mores and backyard campouts, never miss the weekly concerts in the park, have educational farmers market adventures every Wednesday, find new parks and hiking trails to conquer, try new restaurants, and so on and so forth. A smorgasbord of summer fun, a buffet of creative and brain stimulating activities…
Now fast forward to the close of summer and I’m filled with mixed emotions. Last week I lay in bed crying after Russ asked me a simple question, “why didn’t you sign the boys up for more camps this summer?” My initial reaction, as it is so often being a mom, was to get defensive and take this as a poke at my lack of planned crafts and impromptu adventures, my falling short of expectations to be an awesome summer mom, my failure to do my best for my kids, and plainly, me just not being good enough. I could feel the mommy guilt bubbling up, my chest begin to tighten, my chin quiver. “I feel like a failure!” I cried.
“NO! You’re not! It’s a lot to have them all day, every day, and you need a break. I would have thought you wanted them in a couple more camps to give you some time…for yourself.”
“Why do I need time for MYSELF? How SELFISH! I LOVE being with the kids ALL day. They’re in school full time this year, so I’m going to have all the time I need BY MYSELF. Oh god, they’re growing up so fast and I feel like I’m not being present enough, and not doing enough with them, and for them.” I laid there thinking about how I’ve been losing my patience and snapping at them. How I’ve been making them wait too long when they ask me to play with them because I’m on Amazon Prime ordering a bath mat, and vitamins, and kids underwear, and Amy Schumer’s new book. How I didn’t take them to the arcade pizza place that my girlfriend says her kids love so much, but instead I dragged them around to get my car serviced and go to Trader Joes, and Calico Corners. How I putzed around the house several mornings, pjs on, coffee in hand, moving pillows from one couch to another, changing the center piece on the kitchen table for the umteenth time, reorganizing my desk and the pantry, and the fridge, and the Tupperware drawer, while the kids watched multiple episodes of Lion Guard and Ninjago.
“Babe! Seriously?! You’re kicking ass, give yourself a break!”
He went on to remind me that every time I start feeling this way, it’s because I haven’t done enough for myself. And that when I do take the time to take care of me, I am a better mom, and a better person for it. (Thank you for the supportive spoucing babe, it’s always much needed and appreciated.) I still whimpered myself to sleep.
The next morning I got up early (like 8 instead of 8:30…I didn’t totally want to abandon my summer ritual of sleeping in), and I sat with my coffee and reflected on the summer with a fresh, non-mom-guilt perspective. I realized that in the last few days, we had been in a bit of a lazy summer rut,
leading to bickering and tantrums and me losing my patients, (and my fucking mind.) But, the reality of the entire summer as a whole, was really much brighter! Sure my expectations for the summers’ calendar were a little too unrealistic, because that’s what I do…I’m honestly surprised I didn’t aspire to have the kids fluent in Spanish and writing down their daily thoughts of gratitude in journals before bed every night. So, while I may not have lived up to my original ambitions, we did in fact have a kick-ass summer!
The PreK and Kinder ‘refresher’ workbooks NEVER got touched, but I did get the craft boxes out a handful of times for some, below Pinterest grade, artsy stuff, and we also managed to squeeze in bedtime books a few nights a week, ok, a couple nights a week if we were able to have them in bed before 10:30pm. So, ok, we only adventured to two new parks, and those trips may or may not have been initiated by the fact that my vacuum was broken and the only repair shop is in a neighboring city, and running that errand, led to finding a new park when we dropped it off and a new park when we picked it up. I do think it’s odd though, I mean, does no one in Park City have a vacuum on the fritz?
And the beauty of the long, non schedule filled days, was that I could putz about the house and order necessary (and not) items on Amazon while the kids watched super uneducating shows on tv, and yet still find plenty of time to play games with the boys in the yard, and ride bikes in the street, and collect bugs, and make forts with every cushion and blanket in the house, and eat snacks all day instead of have a full meal, all while wearing our jammies ALL DAY LONG! Because they LOVED (and so did I) not having to get dressed (or wear a bra), and comb hair, and be somewhere at a certain time. In hindsight this was most likely the culprit in the anomaly of me gaining weight during a season of the year when every other normal person effortlessly drops unwanted LBs. Ugh! But, with that said, I did manage to get them to swim lessons, mountain bike camp, karate, and drums, here and there.
We may not have gotten in ‘backyard camping’ (still unsure why I thought that would be so much fun), but we did do the real deal a couple different weekends. The kids loved being dirty for three days and I loved scrubbing them down in the shower when we got home. We didn’t do s’mores by a fire pit every week, but we did have impromptu barbecues and happy hours with our awesome next door neighbors, and laugh into the evening while sipping our cocktails and watching, and wincing, as our culdesac turned into a mini Nitro Circus.
We had an absolute blast getting out on the lake every chance we could; getting Charlie on the wake surf with his dad, and getting Crew over his fear of ‘fresh water sharks’ were priceless moments. By the way, for a very split second I almost referred to it as ‘boating’ and immediately threw up in my mouth a little bit. If ever you are in a conversation with someone and they tell you they go ‘boating’, you have my permission to shove their deck shoes, which I assume they are wearing along with a polo shirt tucked into a pair of pleated khaki dockers and a braided leather belt, up their ass because that term sounds ridiculous. I don’t care if it’s a yacht or a pontoon boat, no one should say “boating”, you sound like an ass.
And I definitely did NOT take them to my version of Satans Lare, where they ask you for five million tokens or tickets or whatever, and they run around with five million other screaming children, as I sit hyperventilating in front of a disgusting looking pizza and watch five Billion germs crawl everywhere, right before I go into a full blown panic that I have lost my kids and they have certainly been swept outside into a creepy van with no windows. So, NO, that’s a hard pass on the “super fun arcade and pizza place”. They don’t even know it exists! And I’m gonna keep it that way as long as possible!
Finally, let’s not forget that we went on a week long DISNEY CRUISE! I mean if we did NOTHING else, they got that right? Not too shabby of a summer if I do say so myself.
Crew had his Kindergarten assessment last week. I had clammy hands as I led him to his classroom and hoped that the five minute review of letters, numbers, and shapes we did right before we got there would be fresh enough in his mind to help him out. I sat on the bench outside the classroom door and I pictured him answering the teachers questions like Jim Carey in Ace Ventura in the “What’s the password?” scene, and could just see him answering “ugh, I can NEVER remember that.” to everything.
I could hear her ask him to write his name. Shit! I held my breath… I heard, “Nice work Crew”! I breathed a sigh of relief, smiled and did a little victory dance in my head…I succeeded in not making him dumb over the last two months and therefore I ROCK!
They both officially started school today, Charlie in 1st and Crew in Kindergarten. I thought I would shed a tear, or two, but, I don’t know, they were both so cool and happy and like “I got this mom, see yaaaaa!” that I just smiled instead of cried. Am I a terrible mother for not getting all emotional over this milestone? I drove home from the school, awkwardly trying to make myself shed tears with a scrunched up ugly-cry-face, searching for Adele on the radio to help pull up something. But there was nothin. Dry eyes and a smile, that’s all I got. Well that, and an ironic apprehension about a quiet house from 8:15am to 3:05pm.
Now it’s time to set some realistic School Year Goals…let’s hope I’ve learned a lesson or two from summer.