Yes, I’m counting the days until school starts, but not for the reasons that you may think. Historically I used to start counting the days oh, about a week after summer break started. Yea, I know how that sounds, you don’t have to tell me, but it’s true. Summer break usually was the beginning of the twelve longest weeks of the year. Children complaining about having nothing to do, but not happy with the activities that I had planned. Teenagers wanting to go on vacation, but dissatisfied with where we ended up taking them. For your information, the Wisconsin Dells can be just as entertaining as Disney World if you do it right. Never mind. “Get a summer job!” I said, to which they replied, “but, I’m only going to make minimum wage!” Duh. Basically, I decided that summer break must have been designed to be punishment for all of the horrible things that I had done during the school year. That was the only logical reason that I had to suffer through three months of complete hell.
It didn’t change much after the Dynamic Duo were born. I was no match for them. I filled their days with activities – pre-school, Mommy & Me classes, play dates – both to keep them entertained, but also to distract them. I needed relief. I was overwhelmed and extremely tired. Please don’t tell me that’s to be expected. I know that. However, somehow I just wasn’t prepared for just how overwhelmed and tired I would be. Did I mention that I was jealous of my husbands ability to leave the house sans children every day? So what he was going to work. It was summer and if I had to be trapped in the house with five children, as far as I was concerned, so did he! It didn’t really work that way.
You know, the irony here is that by the time the school year comes to an end, I am so glad to be done with it. I’m tired of checking back packs, correcting homework and making lunches. By that time, I can barely function. In fact, Jen Hatmaker over at JenHatmeker.com wrote a very funny, but very true essay about this very thing (you can read it here: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2013/05/30/worst-end-of-school-year-mom-ever). THAT WOMAN IN THAT BLOG IS ME! Honestly, all enthusiasm and imagination runs out around March and by April, I’m just going through the motions. Thing 1 noticed that something wasn’t right after I gave her the same snack every day for two weeks straight. One night on her way up to bed she said, “Ummm, Mom, that’s okay, I will take care of packing my snack because I just can’t take another day of Goldfish.” I felt like such a failure. Okay, not really, but I did let her handle it.
I say all of this to tell you that usually, by this time of the summer, I am already planning what I’m going to do with my time on their first day of school and my first day of freedom. This year, however, something is different. I’m not planning. In fact, when I think about the first day of school, I become very melancholy. I mean, there are definitely things that I will change in my schedule, like no longer blogging instead of sleeping, like I do now. Also, I’m looking forward to fitting in my workouts, hair appointments, doctor visits without having to rush to pick up one of the kids. I can work on recipes without interruption. Dinner. I think I will be able to actually get dinner on the table most nights at a decent hour. Not every night, but that’s just on principle. These are all good things, but I’m still sad. I think that I have to admit that I have really enjoyed this summer. I don’t know why it has been different, but it is. Maybe because they or older? Or maybe because I am. They seem to have mellowed a bit. Especially, Thing 1. Suddenly she’s so sophisticated. Now, when I’m singing and dancing in the car, she looks at me like “OMGosh! She’s my mother?!” Now that I know that it embarrasses her, I make sure that my windows are down as to not obstruct anyone’s view of my antics. Wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone.
Or, maybe it’s the fact that they will both be in school for 7.5 hours per day, every day. You would think that a woman with five children and who has been parenting for 23 years would be okay with this. It doesn’t seem as exciting as it once did.
I also enjoy the fact that they are becoming friends. This summer, I’ve had occasion to watch each of them defend and protect the other when someone else dared to try to come between them. And their conversations are comedic gold mines, especially when we are riding in the car, for instance:
Thing 2: “If you could have any princess power what would it be?”
Thing 1: “Princess power? What power?”
Thing 2: “Like talking to animals, singing, dancing, shooting a bow and arrow? That kind of stuff.”
Thing 1: “Well, I do dance, and I’m a great singer. I don’t need to talk to animals because I don’t like them. Shooting a bow and arrow? I don’t know about that one. How about shooting a Nerf gun?”
Thing 2: “Cool! Wait, what princess shoots a Nerf gun?”
Thing 1: “WE SHOOT NERF GUNS!”
Thing 2: “Oh, right! So we are the princess that shoot Nerf guns. Got it!”
Nerf Guns. Just one of the many benefits of having older brothers.
I love the way their minds work. I love the lazy mornings when they come get in my bed when Daddy’s gone and we all watch cartoons and eat dry Froot Loops. I love painting our toes ourselves and not going to the salon and learning to braid each other’s hair. I love spending afternoons at the pool and looking at their beautifully deep tans. I love what I now call their “summer smell” – a mixture of sun screen, chlorine and bug spray. I love making cookies together, reading our favorite and some new books and just being with them. We have had our share of unpleasant moments, but over all, I have thoroughly enjoyed their company over the summer and I’m going to miss them.
The good news is that it’s not over, after all, there are still 39 days and we have plans for most of them. I wish there were 40 or maybe 45 more days, although I don’t really know what difference it makes. I’m just trying to hold on. Please think of me on the eve of the 39th day. Say a little prayer that I don’t hang out a little too long at the door of their class rooms or stare in the window as I walk by on my way home. Better yet, send me a gently reminder to come home, do some blogging and take a nap.