As the last three days of the school year are upon us, and as I maniacally get ready for SUMMERTIME, I’ve been looking back at past summers to see what worked and what didn’t and anything I should do differently this year. I’ve learned that camps are good and that seventies summers are a thing of the past that should definitely NOT be resuscitated. Unless you’re one of those spectacular mothers rarely seen in the wild who have the capacity to handle the rabid craziness that summer brings out in small children after day three of no school. I’m not sure if that capacity comes naturally to some mommies or if it’s aided by the massive intake of caffeine, wine and more wine. If there was ever a reason to day-drink, it’s day 43 of summer vacation.
I simply don’t have the energy or the vocal strength to yell, “get outside this house right now!” any more than ten times per day. I’ll do my best but there will definitely be a few camps so that someone else can insure that my kiddos are well and truly outdoors for as many hours as possible. Regardless, though, I’ll still be the Chief Executive in Charge of Summer for the great majority of these sunny days. And here’s what I know for sure:
- Lazy days by the pool = one hour of searching for yesterday’s swimsuit, only to find it wadded up in a still-damp ball in a corner of the laundry room + fruitless search for sunscreen which is supposed to be in the swim bag but which is, for some reason, on the kitchen counter by the coffee maker + three “I need to go potties” + seven “can’t we just watch Shimmer and Shine?” + two cold cups of coffee forgotten in the microwave + finally getting to the pool only to have the youngest yell proudly from the middle of the water, “mommy! I had a poopy!” with a big grin. Cue clearing the pool.
- Impromptu hikes = no closed-toe shoes to be found because we don’t wear them in
the summer + one hour of prepping a backpack with all necessary snacks, water, wipes and sunscreen, only to have your child throw a tantrum five minutes out the door because the “right” snacks weren’t included + ten minutes down the trail the other child needs to go potty and refuses to nature potty + three minutes later the first child is done and their legs are “soooo tiiiiired”.
- Art projects involving leaves and flower petals = decimating mommy’s roses and angering some bees while collecting + glue on the floor + crying because brother got a different petal that she wanted but there aren’t any others like it + brother saying he just wants to play Minecraft seventeen times in the span of one minute.
- Water tables and toys in the yard = five minutes at each station + loss of interest + fighting over which color water squirter each child wants.
But even though I know all this, I also know that it’s all worth it. Because some days at the pool are a heady mixture of laughing kids and splashing water and bright blue skies, and they’re the kind of days when everything goes right. I sit on the edge of the pool and dangle my feet in the water and my daughter catches my toes like they’re fish and looks up at me with her big, blue sparkly eyes and I think to myself, “it really doesn’t get better than this.”
And some hikes through the woods near our house are little feet running over the cool, dark earth under the shade of huge trees, hide-and-seek in the soft leaves and loud games of tag over the wide expanse of a green meadow at the top of the hill.
Art projects can be quiet moments of creativity and communion between me and the kids, exchanging ideas, exploring colors and just being together; and our yard somehow turns into another world when these two get out there with their big imaginations and their summertime spirits set free.
So, as with so much of parenting, summer with kids isn’t either/or. It’s and/also. It’s crazy-making AND it’s wonder-causing. Even though I know I’m entering the mother’s busy season (as if any season isn’t the busy season), I’m ALSO entering the mother’s magic season. Anything can happen, anything is possible. We can do anything we want! Summertime!
The craft box is ready. The yard is full of basketball hoops and cornhole and water guns and sprinklers galore. The pool is warm and the lake is … well, the lake is cold but the kids don’t care. And the camps are booked. I got this people. And also I don’t. Good luck, Mamas. Jesus make a way.