Best End of Summer Parent Ever

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I apologize to anyone who is still not on summer vacation.  As well as to anyone reading this who has returned to school.  I am Canadian and our summer vacation starts basically in July.  So forgive me for still holding on to summer until the bitter end.

The other morning, I had Youngest to the Doctor. When it came to the eye/ear exam, the good physician peered into my child’s unshowered/unbathed/unwashed ear and exclaimed: “Oh, good. She has two grains of sand in her ears. All children should have at least some sand in their ears in the summer.”

Huh. I had no idea.

And if that were not reason enough to love summer- c’mon, it is the one time of the year we are awarded brownie points at the doctor’s office for uncleanliness, my child’s pediatrician also had this to say about Daughter’s bruised/scabby legs: “I see someone has been playing outside a lot this summer.”

{Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.}

So I guess that’s a score for Your’s Truly. I might have a child that looks like a prisoner of war/child soldier, but it doesn’t even matter. It’s summer. And the dirty, wounded, scabbed look is all the rage during this optimum time of year.

I am sorry to say this, Dear Girlfriends of mine who are chomping at the bit for school to arrive.  I know you love the routine of September and its glorious, blissful seven-hour school days, but… it is still summer people. It might be August. The days might be longer. The weather changing. The wardrobe needing of a little warmish fall apparel.  The sun moving farther from our northerly parts. But it is still summer. And I will hold to that sentiment until 6:45 a.m. the morning I am scheduled to be back at work. I read Jen Hatmaker’s tribute to being the ‘worst end of summer parent’, and I confess: I am just not ready to get off this train. The caboose may be headed down a crash course to oblivion but I am holding on tight. I will ride it until the bitter end.

What’s not to love about summer, my dear people? The long days, the endless options, the sun. The SUN. I mean, seriously?!  Lest we forget the power outages due to record snowfall/ice storms back in far-away, far-off February/March, the snowsuits, winter boots, frozen car interiors and the like.  Let me remind you: THERE IS NO SNOW IN SUMMER. 

Hello. Best.reason.ever. (to love summer).

But that said, there are so many other reasons to love this fair time of year. Oh, let me count the ways:

1. It is the one time of year I can bar-b-q breakfast, lunch and supper. You think I am kidding. I am not. Well, maybe about breakfast, but that is only because we have a toaster.
2. My kids are tired, whiny, cranky, exhausted- you name it, but I am not even losing  (all of my) marbles. Because it’s summer- and I know that tomorrow there is the very good chance that they will sleep in. And maybe so will I.
3. I can get away with wearing a bathing suit as an outfit (as unpleasant an image as that might conjure up in some of your minds).
4. It is the one time of the year I survive on a steady intake of iced coffee, milkshakes and smoothies as my dairy supplement.
5. Camping. There are not enough words to describe my adoration for camping.  I absolutely adore campgrounds with pools, other peoples’ children (serving as a distraction for my own Four Dear Ones), sewer hook-up, water and electricity. I would sell all I own and take up waterfront residence at KOA Cornwall, PEI in a heartbeat (if it meant never needing to vacuum again).
6. Smores. Best supper alternative ever.
7. Flip-flops.  Slip on, slip off.  Ingenious.
8. Warm, balmy evening air- there are no words to describe this amazing natural wonder.  I love leaving the house in anything less than a parka.
9. Summer relaxation- is there anything like it? Is there anything quite like an evening sitting out by a campground with friends, watching the wood in the fire pit smoulder and burn?  Anything quite like an afternoon spent on the water?  Or a quiet morning whittled away on the porch swing? I should say not. You can take that pleasant memory with you to the cold, frigid days of late January and let it sit there and shiver.
10. Last but not least- water. Water in the summer is paradise. I love looking at it, touching it, drinking it, pouring it over my flowers, boating on it, swimming in it, canoeing over it, diving under it, splashing it on unsuspecting people. I can even tolerate small portions of time spent cleaning with it (particularly if I am at a campground- see #5) Water in summer is at it’s best. Throwing ice at people when the temperature is -26 with the windchill just doesn’t have the same effect.

Look, I understand. We are all burn-out right about now. My children cry over nothing. Nothing! If someone looks at them the wrong way there are noises emanating from them that could break the sound barrier. But I will put up with this minor inconvenience if it means summer will stay.

Keep your piece of mind- I will have my blissful slice of summer lovin’.

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A Hug Takes But a Second

A hug takes but a second. But that is hard for a big brother to understand, let alone tolerate. And she is tormenting him. Mercilessly. Arms wrapped around his waist in a vice-grip. He allows her for but a moment longer, and then I can see that he’s had enough. He says something smart- words that might sting if not interrupted with another distracting thought or action. She runs out of the room, looking for another body to touch. To cling to. To tease.

What a little monkey.

But there are no takers. Everybody’s just too busy tonight. Nobody is interested in bending over for a hug. A snuggle- a squeeze. I stand there at the sink and I take it all in.

“C’mere,” I say. “I’ll hug you.” She runs into my arms. And then we hold each other for a few short minutes.

“How come you never ask me for a hug? ” I then say, after we’ve both had our quiet moment of loving one another. “Why don’t you ever want to hug me?”

“You’re never there…you’re always too busy, she says simply, without flourish.

I feel slightly stung. I am the mother. I should be good at this by now, four kids later. And she, the baby. I should be the one she runs to first. Shouldn’t I?

But truth: often I’m not. And she’s right- I am too busy some of the time. Cleaning, cooking, nagging- you know the drill. And to be honest, sometimes- I just don’t have the energy. The gumption’s gone

But a hug takes just a second.

We walk, she clasping my neck while I make my way into the formal sitting area where the fireplace in winter often cozies the room with warm embers and soft glow. I sink into a chair, and she leans into my chest. We re-adjust- she’s bigger now than I last remember. I have to hold her differently to make it work. But we can do this. Because a hug takes just a second. One, two counts- and the moment is over. And she’s gone again- off to do what six-year old’s like to do best. At any given moment.
And yet- tonight. Right now- I am so glad I took the time. So glad I held her close this evening. After all, a hug takes but a second.

I am like most mothers eternally busy. I have lots to do, and then some. I often leave myself to the very last, so lately I’ve been focused on reclaiming the vestiges of my former myself. Which is to say, I am all for moms getting perspective. Something I haven’t always been good at doing myself. I am all for moms who also know when pulling back and letting go is the best choice. And I am all for moms who don’t take themselves too seriously- who don’t try too hard to be perfect and who accept themselves for who they are, warts and all. I am all for mothers who are ‘people’ first. Who love who they are and are proud to chase their dreams.

Because sometimes we mamas just get lost in this parenting gig- and we wake up twenty-five years later and wonder who we are. We wonder: what’s our purpose now?

I am not for that kind of mothering.

And yet. Sometimes in justifying and then accepting my mothering status as ‘good enough’, I forget that we mamas can never really quite ‘get enough’ of these precious growing up days- these moments, these years. They are fleeting. Momentary. They are ever so fragile and brief. And while I realize I have limits and boundaries around what I can and cannot do- a hug takes but a second. A smile is just a breath. A kiss is but a instant.

And then it’s gone.

When I remember it just like this, that all our moments are just precious slips of eternity, then it’s more than doable: it’s magic. Getting enough of all those little moments is what we live for. It’s what makes those other less than stellar moments of our day all the more vivid and real. It makes our life less a project and more a story. Because each moment then becomes a piece of the puzzle. A tile in the mosaic.

These are the days of our lives, these living years. They are what really count- they are the big picture.
May we never forget to seize the little opportunities in life that make all the difference.