I decided to kick the bucket list to the curb this summer. To me, they are only glorified to-do lists anyway. They may be filled with fun things like zoo trips, fireworks shows, baseball games and water park visits, instead of the typical to-dos of laundry, oil changes and cleaning toilets. But I prefer to just chill out with no task list in mind and see how the weeks unfold. While I had some plans for those 100-ish days away from school, for the most part, I just looked forward to the unscheduling, to not having to pick-up kids from school, to being able to sleep in and fly by the seat of our pants.
Unfortunately the reality hasn’t matched the dream of what the summer would be.
It started with day camp and tennis lessons for the first two weeks. Both of which interrupted the toddler’s sleep schedule (morning and afternoons), which in turn put a wrench in my work time. I just kept telling myself that as those activities came to an end, the summer would be ours to enjoy in a carefree existence. After all, an unschedule meant bliss, right?
Instead, the kids have been, ahem, challenging. The youngest doesn’t like that she misses out on having her mom to herself for half the day. The middle child is expressing her lack of desire for conformity. And, the oldest believes that summer time means no responsibilities. Thankfully I’ve been meeting all of these challenges head on. I have been game for whatever they have thrown at me. I have woken each morning ready to dive into parenting and encouraging them, always ready to share wisdom and gently guide them towards peaceful solutions and sibling solidarity.
Instead, I’ve struggled with finding my groove. I’ve lamented the lost hours of productivity. I’ve yearned for peace and quiet. And I’ve blamed them for being grumps, while forgetting to take a look at myself.
So, after a challenging start to the day the other morning, I put myself in a time out. It was only 45 minutes after the kids had gotten up and I was already tired, angry and yelling.
And, I couldn’t blame them.
As much as I wanted to say it was because this child did this or that child wasn’t listening or this one has been passively aggressively pushing my buttons for weeks now, the truth is that I was the one who needed to remove myself and take a break. What I realized was that during these last few weeks, I’ve been feeling out of the groove. I’ve been feeling short on time. I’ve been disgruntled by what has or hasn’t been accomplished so far. I’ve been worried that the summer will end way too quickly.
But the kids? They don’t care about productivity. They don’t have any concept of how many more days until school starts. In their world, it’s still forever away. All they know is that their mom has been distracted and grumpy and nagging them to clean up after themselves.
What I came to realize was that, while I didn’t think I had a bucket list in mind for the summer, I subconsciously had created one. It might not have included things like water parks and zoo trips. But it did have a lot of lazy mornings in the backyard and afternoon reading sessions. It included catching fireflies and tree frogs in the evening, and kicking back together in the hammock. It also included having the kids pitch in around the house more, do their chores (plus some extras) without having to ask them, teaching Kenna to take over making oatmeal in the morning, helping Jonas realize that storage containers, not his bedroom floor, are the appropriate place for Legos when not in use, and engaging the kids in a smattering of science projects for good measure to avoid that dreaded brain drain.
Regardless of whether or not any of that stuff happens between now and the start of the school year, what really matters is that I show up and engage. That’s all the kids want. They don’t want a distracted mom who is irritated with not having met my self-imposed work or domestic goals for the day. All they want is 100 days of, well, whatever. After all, it is summer, a time to sleep in, catch a few tree frogs and leave the Legos wherever they might fall.
So tell me, how has your summer been going so far?
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