Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mommas and Summer: Telling the Truth

I want to love it. I want to jump into it with two feet and soak up every stinking second of the three magnificent months I get to spend with my sweet children. I want to be eager, be driven, be patient, be good. I want to plan and play and persist.

But, the truth is I am tired already.

Summer is coming and here is what I know. For the first time in 13 years, I have had a bit of time to myself. For the first time since I laid my eyes on Noah's beautiful face, I have gone to the bathroom alone, enjoyed moments of quiet and had time to do so many things that just plain needed to be done. I cooked better meals and shopped in smaller quantities and yes, I missed my children. Terribly. But, after I adjusted to their conspicuous absence, I enjoyed some time to myself. It was strange... but it is true.

I am one of those mommas who really loves to be with her kids. I am one of those mommas who likes to make a plan, teach them something, sit with them and read a book. I am that woman. And yet... there is a hesitancy here and I hope I am not alone. (How silly I would look, if I were.) Because as much as I am eager to have them here, waking up late and sporting bed-heads all day long, running through sprinklers and shooting hoops, digging in the garden and biting into beans and tomatoes fresh off the vine... there is a part of me that worries about it, too.

Can we be honest here? Can we own this little, guilty worry so that we can make a plan to face it head on? Summer is long and sometimes living days and days with no time away makes me less than I wish I was. As amazing as the view of sunny, clear days might be from this cloudy place, the reality is that it rains and kids fight and I get crabby and the house gets messed up and planning feels overwhelming and it gets to be, every now and then, just a little bit much. Do you ever feel that way at all?

So, I need to make a plan. My hope is that if I can find a way to buy time... if I can create a little space to regroup... maybe the ugly under-belly of unlimited time off might keep itself hidden and allow me to focus on the view I want to see. Me. My children. And a time of rejuvenation together.

As I tried to figure out what might help, I realized that there were two things that I have really valued this year. Two things I need to find place for this summer.

1. Most mornings, after I take my children to school, I go to the gym and work out. Now, I wish I had more to show for that but I do know for sure that I feel better now than before I did all this. I think so much of that has to do with being active and moving more. How do I work that in with four kids and a busy schedule and no time away?

2. Having quiet time to myself goes a long way in saving my sanity. For the past 9 months, I have had that 5 days a week. How can I find that in a home teeming with children? How can I live peacefully without it?

As I think this through, I have a couple of ideas that might help to make a difference. I am not sure I would call this a plan, just yet. But, I do think it's a start.

1. Two to three mornings a week, I am going to ask my hubby to wake me up in the morning so I can go for a walk before the kids wake up. On the days when I did not walk in the morning, I will try to go to the health club after Mark comes home from work. Normally, this is a challenge for me since I feel badly missing out on family time. But, since it is the summer and I will be ROLLING in family time, I am going to try to make it work for me. Getting exercise helps me to feel better, gives me more energy and will offer me a bit of the life I live while my kids are in school.

2. After lunch each day, I am going to have my kids spend 45 minutes quietly reading or drawing or resting after lunch. It will take some planning, and likely many trips to the library, but I think knowing that we have a little snippet of time in the midst of a loud, full day will go a long way in helping me to maintain some balance. In that time, I can read or sit or rest or regroup for the rest of the day.

These two adjustments might make a difference for me... though the most important adjustment I need to make is internal. I need to remember that some days are hard. Some days are frustrating. Some days are full to the brim with the kind of chaos that pushes me over the edge. And then the day ends. And the sun sets. And in the morning, it rises again bringing new hope, new chances, new perspectives. This, I need to remember.

The bottom line is, I want to love it. I want to look forward to the fullness of summer and embrace it every day. But some days, I won't. Some days will be hard. When I am tired and stressed, those hard days get harder. Now is the time to plan. Now is the time to see it all, good and bad, and be honest about what it will take to make this summer as amazing as I want it to be. For them. And for me.

Blessings on your day.

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