At the beginning of summer, I introduced this list, full of excitement and anticipation of all the fun and cool stuff we were going to do together. The promise of the beginning of what seemed like a massive amount of time off was exhilarating and made me feel like I was the giddy school girl who was off for the summer. The truth of the matter is, I was. No homework, reading assignments (except what we wanted to do for our own summer reading program), projects (except what we wanted to create together), early mornings of rushing, signing, and packing things for the day. The thought of what our summer would behold was altogether thrilling. This is my last season with Middle before he starts kindergarten and I planned to make it the best one yet.
Now, we are less than three weeks away from the start of school and I am in panic mode. I am freaking out about our list of 43 items with only 25 completed. There’s still some big activities left that we want to do as a family when Daddy is off from work, making it a little more difficult to check off. This list wasn’t started with the intention of stressing me out to get it all in, but we’ve been doing this for a few years now and you would think I’d learn not to be quite as ambitious. The fact is, we’ve done way more than what’s on our list and I forget to remind myself that the kids are enjoying themselves and most definitely having a fun summer. I’m letting my guilt lead me in my parenting again. Lord knows, however hard I try, I just can’t help it. I didn’t have these memories and quality time with my family growing up. I want my kids to experience the best of childhood and to look back with fondness remembering the awesome times we had together. I want them to know I would go to the moon and back for them just to see them smile, because they mean that much to me. I want our days filled with love, snuggles, discussions, and closeness and so I set these incredibly heavy expectations upon myself to make it all happen so I don’t fail them while they are young. God knows I’ll screw up (and have) in some way between now and when they are adults, but it certainly won’t be for lack of trying my hardest and making every effort to be their champion and show them my undying love for them.
The realization that Middle will no longer be in my care 24/7 starting in just a few short weeks has me in tears. I still can’t get over that I have to hand over my Princess each year and she’s starting second grade. I don’t know if it will ever get any easier for me. I treasure these little people so much. They are amazing, incredible, and completely addictive. They are my family, my journey, my adventure, my life. Our life together is wondrous and the very thing I cherish. Any time away from them rips away slivers from my heart no matter how short or long. God made me a mother for a reason and I thank Him from my knees everyday for granting me such a precious gift. That doesn’t mean I don’t get tired, frustrated, or hopeless sometimes. I experience all normal craziness in addition to my own baggage. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. What I do know is that the example I was given is my very reason for exceeding my kids’ expectations and my own. I don’t want to become that mother. The one she was to me. I’m often asked by peers and friends, “How do you do it all?” or hear, “You are amazing!” when the truth of it is guilt pushes me most of the time. Guilt of what became of my mother’s and my relationship, guilt of not having loving grandparents in the picture to dote on my kids the way they deserve, and guilt that there are days when I am too tired to give any more and miss a step or forget to do something I said I would. The truth is, I don’t feel I “do it all” and most definitely do not feel “amazing”. I know I am a good mother and achieve what I mostly set out to do. My goal is to make these little people happy and to teach them that no matter what disappointments come their way, Mommy and Daddy will always be there. They don’t know my parents, so they don’t miss those relationships. However, they do know my husbands parents and sadly they aren’t in the picture anymore. My babies have been hurt and experienced enough disappointment from grownups in this lifetime. I want to eliminate as much of that as possible, so I often overcompensate by making incredibly long “fun lists” to keep them focused on now instead of what they may be missing.
So here we are with 18 things left to check off our summer list. Two items are scheduled for today which certainly gets us closer to completion, but it won’t be the end of the world if we don’t finish them all before school starts. My kids are happy and loved. I can find a way to let go of the guilt if it doesn’t all get done, because I know they have enjoyed our time together. I’ll find new ways to stress myself out and freak over little stuff once school starts, but those will fizzle and fade eventually too. It always does. What I need to be better with is what I try to instill in my kids, that now is the time that matters most. Now is what we have and making the best of it is so much fun. Our summer has been everything we set out to make it even if the list comes up short a few things. It’s been exciting, exhilarating, adventurous and possibly the best one yet.