Ten years ago with five kids, summer seemed endless, and not in a good way. By the beginning of August, I was done with making chicken nuggets three times a day, done with breaking up fights, done with “what are we going to DO today,” done with barricading myself in the bathroom to do a conference call, futilely hoping that everyone wasn’t wondering why it sounded so “echoey” and what were those shouts and pounding noises. Stick a fork in me, I was DONE.
By the time we navigated the Buying of the Shoes (why are you always sold out of kids’ sneakers, Target? I’m looking at you), the Finding of the Non-Branded, Non-Pink, Non-Mini-Streetwalker clothing, the purchasing of the dry erase markers that are still on the school supply list even though the school has had smartboards for what seems like a decade, I was extra-crispy done. I brushed the kids’ hair and took photos and waved the kids around the corner on the bus, then did the happy dance in the driveway and usually had a thank-God coffee with friends. Or a nap.
Now, I’m dreading the end of summer. I look at their backpacks which are still stacked in living room, untouched since June 8, with last year’s papers (and hopefully not last year’s lunch) inside, and I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna. Why is that? Really, two reasons.
I don’t wanna monitor or help with homework. Dang, but it’s nice in the summer to just “be” with the kids without having to make them do too much of anything. It’s nice never to have a four-hour bombshell dropped into my day because someone needs help with a paper or project. Pretty soon, I expect to begin having my recurring nightmare where, after graduating high school, I decide to go back and repeat my senior year and I can’t do the work suddenly and they strip away my diploma. I blame you, kids, and you, school, for this anxiety dream.
I don’t wanna do extra-curriculars. I don’t wanna have every evening and weekend booked for some lesson or activity for somebody, including me. Our kids are homebodies and don’t play sports, and it’s still nuts. This is the insane suburban life many parents lead.
As usual, though, just writing this out is therapeutic for me. I know that summer and school are just seasons of life with kids. I’m truly grateful that summer actually exists for me now as a time of relaxation. That’s all because the kids have gotten older and more independent and require less and less assistance with what senior caregivers call “activities of daily living.” I can see the light at the end of the tunnel where in addition to making their own lunches, they’ll be able to handle all their own homework without zero oversight, drive to their own activities, and do their own shopping. One day, if I’ve done my job, my main job as a parent will just be to enjoy the kids’ company whenever I can get it – the Reign of Perpetual Summer. I’m gonna savor the degree of Perpetual Summer I already have with kids. It’s gonna happen. And how sweet it will be.