Summer’s here! And even though I’m a 53 year old woman (Why lie? My birth certificate doesn’t.) I seem to still retain childlike expectations of the season. And even worse, childlike (or perhaps childish is more appropriate) resentments and frustrations when it doesn’t go as planned. I still seem to anticipate a vacation, lazy days and nights, cookouts, swimming pools – and very little responsibility.
Not only am I setting myself up for disappointment but summer can actually be more of a challenge than the school year.
Even amidst the carpools (true confessions: my kids usually drive themselves – with my car of course!), homework, lunches (Okay, they also make their own!) and other challenges -- there is order. There is routine.
In the summer there is…chaos. Which only seems to increase as my kids get older and I can no longer force them to go to camp.
Everyone seems to be on the move (even that or hanging around the house doing absolutely nothing!) – but never at the same time. So summer whizzes by in a blur of job commitments (mine), airport trips (theirs) and entertaining that one (and constantly revolving) child who seems to be left at home.
It’s been all of three days and I’m pulling my hair out!
I know I should be focused on the pleasure of the individual time with each child but I seem to be caught up in the pestering, the boredom, the complaining and the constant sense of someone underfoot. Where is that “room of one’s own”?!
This is a little bit like the old joke about the three elderly women in Miami. “Oy” says one. “Oy vey” says the other. “Oy vey is mir” says the third. “Okay, enough talk about the children!”
From the minute we have children, our lives are not about us.
Okay, enough fussing, enough kvetching. Time to (try to) change my perspective and face the summer anew. From the minute we have children, our lives are not about us. I know and accept this, so why let a little sunshine and blue sky fool me? I need to do what’s best for them.
I need to give them time and attention (and boundaries!) and you know what, I think I can enjoy it!
As long as I don’t believe I should be somewhere else (Yes, I know the beach in LA is accessible all-year round but I keep having great vacation ideas!) or doing something else (other than my basic work commitments that help fund any summer adventures) I should make myself available. These are rare times and opportunities – especially with my adolescents and older kids.
The power of the past is hard to break. The force of expectations weights heavily. But I know I’ve idealized that time. And it’s irrelevant anyway. It’s been 30 years! It’s time to grow up and move on.
Summer vacation is an opportunity after all – just not the one I’ve deluded myself into desiring.
It’s an opportunity for family time – for fun and growth. And it’s a chance for individual time with each child. The years actually go by fast.
When the house is empty and I’m perhaps able to fulfill some of those summertime dreams I’m sure all I’ll want is a return to these days. I’m sure I’ll regret any lost moments.
So I’m just going to capture them now! Ice cream, anyone?