Yesterday was the last day of school this school-year for my kids. They are officially out for the summer. For some, this time might conjure visions of watermelon by the pool, beach towels thrown over deck railings, flip-flops, or kids staying up late watching their favorite movies (with the sun being up so long now).
But I’m a little nervous. It might be a “vacation” or a “break” for my kids from their school activities, but for me it is no break and not exactly what I consider a vacation.
What I see when I imagine summer is me saying for the millionth time that day, “Stop fighting!” I see my daughter screaming when I put on her flip-flops. My son is rounding up the beach towel to “whip” it at my daughter while she continuously screams at the top of her lungs (have I mentioned before how loud my daughter is?), “Mommmmyyyyy!” My deck is blue with paint and my furniture is coated in watermelon juice. And, I don’t have one ounce of energy left to care about it.
My kids are still in pre-school, so the time they are there is short, but oh, so sweet. I picked up my daughter at 12 and my son at 1. I got her; we ate lunch together, and went back for my son.
As long as the school year continued, I had a blissful three hours, 30 minutes and 52 seconds (but who’s counting?). And in that time I usually had to choose a couple of activities: sometimes grocery shopping without the kids, sometimes a nap in my bed, or a squat in the coffee shop with my mocha and a book. I might walk with a friend or have breakfast with friends or Hubby. There are many, many choices I had about how to spend that time, but it was my choice and my time.
My fears about summers are not unfounded. I do have one under my belt to attest for my insanity when it comes to the kids being out of school for so long. Last summer, it was my first time – I was a summer-break virgin, so-to-speak.
I associate that period to the scary movie I saw as a child, “The Shining,” where Jack Nicholson goes a little crazy trapped in that hotel with his family. He tries to fight it, but to no avail. By the end he’s a loon. Even with the entire hotel to hide in, a big maze on the property and snow machines he could take a ride in, he went bonkers.
On a more positive note, while last summer was very hard, I did actually learn a lesson. This year, I have the kids signed up for camps for two weeks. I have my gracious mother-in-law that will come once a week, on a day when there is a meditation for me to attend at the Phoenix and Dragon book store. I have Hubby, who is great to take my son often with him, and sometimes even my baby-girl will leave my side just long enough to enjoy time with her dad and brother. And I am determined to overcome the awkwardness I feel in a bathing suit and go to the neighborhood pool as often as I can. My children will be perfect swimmers by summer’s end, if I have anything to do with it.
Another plus this summer is that I know what I am in for. I liken last summer to when I accidentally had natural child birth with my daughter. She came 40 minutes after I arrived at the hospital and there was no time for the anesthesiologist to make it for my epidural, so she came the natural way. For this experience I was not prepared. It hurt, and I was wild with the excruciating pain and the anxiety not being prepared brought with it. And I mean w-i-l-d, wild. That is how I felt last summer, wild with anxiety and the emotional pain of not being able to cope well with my situation – being with my children days on end, alone, in the house too much. I became depressed and the more depressed I was, the less we left. I needed camps, activities and an army of friends to play with. But I didn’t have enough of that — I was not prepared.
This year, I vow that my preparedness will bring me comfort. I’m sure the deck will still be blue with paint and the couch coated with juice. I know my kids will fight, they always do. But, my knowledge of what I am in for will hopefully bring me strength. My children are precious and grow more independent daily, for this I am sad to see their baby-hood go, but grateful at the same time to see that they are little capable people. This should be a help this year.
I believe summers are a lesson in endurance for the stay-at-home mom. Wait it out, bide your time, and know school will start again, soon enough.
I now create my summer mantra, and it is: this too shall pass – now breath. Or, I might say: summer is a time of fun, now go have some. If those fail, I might shut myself in the closet with a large bag of Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares or go get a mocha with three shots of espresso.
But I declare today and for the next three months, patience is my best friend and my summer WILL be FUN!