Life Is Short, But Summer Break With My Kids Is NOT…
I have a confession to make:
I am the mama who says: “I can’t wait for summer break! I’m ready to get my kids back! I’m ready for them to be all mine again! I can’t wait to spend the time with them, sleep in and just relax.”
And you then have to try to keep a straight face and restrain yourself from punching me in the face.
I know it’s obnoxious.
But in the moment, it is really how I feel.
Maybe it’s the whirlwind of “Maycember” talking? You know, as busy and chaotic as December, but without the presents.
Don’t let my positivity make you feel guilty.
Sometime around hour three of day one of summer, I’m ready to send them back too!
I’ve finally identified the issue:
The problem is that I’m an idealist.
And I need you to forgive me for it and show me grace when it exasperates you.
Because it will and it probably should.
My husband laughed in my face one time when I asked him, “Don’t you think I’m a realist?”
He laughed and said, “Ummm…what’s the opposite of realist? Idealist? That’s you!”
I sat there stunned.
And later that day, I brought it up again (actually several “agains” because I just couldn’t believe how little he knew me after all these years).
He told me that I’m always chasing the next rainbow.
He said I say things like, “I know this is A LOT right now, but really soon, it will get _____ (fill in the blank: easier, better, less busy, less stressful).”
For example, “I know these children are such a handful right now and we feel like we’re drowning (and in fact, we really were), but when the youngest turns four we’ll be golden! It will be easy peasy then!” (I said when our youngest was one. In hindsight, three years of treading water could be kind of hard to wrap your brain around.)
Or an even more common example, “I’ll be ready in five minutes. We won’t be late this time.”
Chasing rainbows was not something I’d ever thought about.
It certainly wasn’t something I was aware of doing.
And with a sudden bolt of mental clarity, all of these conversations came into focus.
All of the times I’ve made the top of my husband’s head almost blow off with my idealism (to which he has thankfully responded in grace every. single. time.)
I’ve realized that I live in a place in my head and my heart of seeing life as I want it to be and not always as it is. Ideally, not realistically.
I do this in many areas. For example, I love to renovate homes. We’ve had several fixer-uppers over the years and I definitely have the gift of seeing the “potential” of a home, even while stepping over dead cockroaches and experiencing the “eau de foreclosure” wafting through a house that’s been boarded up for two years.
It’s a blessing and curse to be one of those people who sees “potential”.
So when it comes to having my kids at home with me during summer break, please know this:
I’m not the “cruise ship director” kind of parent.
Nor have I planned any crafts or educational activities for us to complete.
Every day is not “Disney World” around here and I dare my kids to tell me they’re bored.
In fact, I’m actually the queen of “Go play.”
So it’s really not that I’m some kind of supermom and therefore I see potential for my creation of a perfect summer for my kids.
In fact, it’s actually the opposite.
Here’s what I see:
- Tons of quality family time
- Sleeping in every day
- Less stress
- Fewer demands
- Feeling refreshed
- Getting life organized before the rush of a new school year
- Tons of quality family time (i.e. breaking up the constant sibling squabbles that naturally occur from too much togetherness)
- Getting up at the crack of dawn just so I will have a few quiet minutes to myself before they’re all five inches from my face for the next 12 hours straight
- More stress (I’ve only yelled at my kids four times today, but now it’s time for breakfast…)
- More demands (“More snacks, Mommy!”, “Another show, Mommy!”, “Can I have a friend over, Mommy?”, “Can we go to the pool, Mommy?”, and on and on all day…)
- Feeling completely drained and exhausted from having people with me every. waking. second. of. every. day.
- Attempting to clean and organize our home during summer break with my kids home is like trying to brush my teeth while eating Oreos. It’s simply not working…
It’s a zoo at my house, and I’m sure it is at yours too.
So I can obviously see how my idealism about having my kids home all summer sounds ridiculous, or even infuriating, to you.
But even as I list (and laugh through) the reality of having all four of my kids home all day every day with me this summer, I have a confession to make:
I still see it…
The potential of a wonderful summer with my kiddos out of school.
The potential that the time I spend pouring into them this summer might actually have a lasting impact on their lives.
The potential that the time spent together, even when it feels like too much togetherness, might form bonds among these siblings that will last a lifetime.
The potential that modeling for my kids how to slow down and settle into a new rhythm will teach them that busyness is not always the better way, that constant entertainment is not necessary, and that perpetual motion will not earn us extra gold stars.
The potential that my kids audibly hearing me say how much I want them home with me will somehow seep into the deep, lonely, hurting places in their little souls and begin healing some of those places that the world has already broken.
The potential that intentionality in our parenting matters.
The potential that taking the time to pause and play Uno for the millionth time or snuggle on the couch in front of yet another episode of Peppa Pig might somehow show my child how loved and treasured they truly are.
The potential that actually seeing the potential and speaking it out loud might make it a reality.
The potential that God will give me the grace to make it through another summer at home with my four kiddos, and not only will we all make it out alive but we might actually be better for it…
So next May, when you hear me going on obnoxiously about how ready I am for summertime with my kiddos, you’ll understand the root of my problem. And I hope you’ll give me grace in my ridiculous “potential-seeing” and withhold judgement. Who knows? This type of idealism might even be contagious…