Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bummer Summer is Over

In what I think may be the first time in my career as a mother, I was really looking forward to my kids going back to school.

Like, really looking forward to it. Not enough to jump for joy once I got them on the bus, but just ready for a break. I’ve always prided myself on being a mom that likes being with her kids and thoroughly enjoys the lazy days of summer with them so it’s a big deal for me to admit that I was ready for them to go back.

Of course when I got the four big kids on the bus I was still left home alone with my most challenging child since preschool starts later than elementary school. This is the kid that finds new and exciting ways of embracing danger. She’s the kid whose spirit I’m sometimes I’m afraid I’m breaking before I wonder if she’s actually breaking mine.

Seriously, this kid. She is like a cartoon stereotype of a mischievous child, the Dennis the Menace for the 21st century.  I won’t get into her entire history of naughtiness now (I’ll save that for a future blog entry) but I’ll just let you know that her current favorite activity is sneaking handfuls of cat food to eat while her face is self-decorated with marker and she’s with her imaginary friend Lily (whose idea it undoubtedly was) and her one armed doll Pixie. I will unashamedly admit that I am very looking forward to getting a break from her and I will definitely do a happy dance when I drop her off at preschool.

(To my grown future daughter, if you are reading this, I love you very much and I’m hopeful certain that you’re a lovely well-adjusted adult now.  But you were a very exhausting child and you really loved preschool so it was a win-win.)

As for looking forward to the other kids going back to school, well, it was just a draining summer. There were a lot of cold days, a lot of rainy days. There were several weeks in which we didn’t even swim at all. Being stuck in the house wasn't very easy as the addition was being built and everything was just a disorganized mess and their playing spaces were severely limited. Books and toys were inaccessible, beds were disassembled, rooms were off-limits, nails and cigarette butts littered the yard. Being home didn’t quite feel like being at home.

Of course we also had to deal with my Grandmother’s death, the first significant death any of them had to deal with. They bounced back pretty quickly, but their mother didn’t.  Trying to keep it together during their frequent pragmatic (read: insensitive) questioning took its toll on me (like “So when we gonna sell this house?” as we were at her home waiting for the funeral director to pick up her body.)

What else sucked? Oh right, I had to write another letter to the Parole Board and I realized it’s time for another colonoscopy, both of which are things I dread doing. So maybe it’s not so much that I wanted my kids to go back to school as much as it’s that I just wanted this summer to be over.

Well, yeah. That’s probably about 90% of it, honestly.

The other 10% is a combination of wanting more for my kids and for myself.  For my kids, I am really looking forward to them being able to spend time with their peers five days a week again. My older kids have really begun to found their groups of true friends, the ones that want to sing show tunes together or play Dungeons and Dragons at recess. My younger kids just like to be with all kids all the time, especially at the playground for recess.

I’m excited that they get to be with other adults that care about them. I still remember so many of my teachers who influenced or inspired me and I hope for that for my children, too.

I’m thrilled for my oldest, B, being in 7th grade now many more activities open up for her that she’s been longing to join, namely chorus and drama club. (A girl after her mother’s heart for sure.) I’m looking forward to kindergarten for Z. He gets to ride the bus with the big kid this year and everything, he is so happy and that makes me happy for him.

And of course they're all going to get back to the business of  knowing more than their Mother does.

For me, I’m looking forward to a little routine. I really need my consistent exercise time back. I long to be able to do my housework without feeling guilty that they’re being ignored while I get it done. There will be LOTS of extra housework once the addition is done and I need to try to put everything back in order. I also look forward to a little kid-free time for any appointments I need (Pap smears go much smoother without five kids in the room. Trust me.) And although I had lots of time for socializing over the summer, there wasn't much social activism going on. With ten hours a week completely sans les enfants, I can get more writing, acting, community event planning done.

In so many ways, we did have a great summer. We went on a family vacation; we’re getting the addition of our dreams. My little boys mastered skim boarding at the beach. My older kids got to have slightly older kid adventures like impromptu sleep overs and trips to amusement parks with friends. We ate food out of the garden and watched caterpillars turn into butterflies.

But this wet, emotionally exhausting summer is coming to an end and this tired mama is happy about that—and that’s okay. This year, summer just wasn’t our time to shine. Fall is approaching and the sting of Babci’s death is lessening, the addition is nearly done, the letter to the Parole Board is done and sent. Okay, okay, I still need to schedule the colonoscopy but even that will get done in the fall. See, once the kids and I are back into our school year routine, I am much stricter with my daily to-do lists. 

So I present to you my to-do list for their first weeks back at school. Hold me to it, people.

1.   Let go of any guilt about being glad they’re going back   (See, you helped me with that one already. Thanks.)

2.   Hang in there until preschool starts

3.   Try not to act too happy when #2 happens, I do have an image to maintain as a Mom that likes being with her kids

4.   Get back into a good exercise routine

5.   Also stop the summer-mindset excessive snacking. And flossing, let's throw that on the list too. 

6.   Work hard to get addition done and house back in order (that will be its own list of hundreds of jobs)

7.  Call and schedule the colonoscopy. I won't even have to go yet, it takes months to get in. Chant to self if needed: The discomfort and annoyance of going through the colonoscopy trumps dying of a very treatable cancer. You can't let their kids lose their mom because you didn't feel like going through the horrible prep. Stop being a baby and call already.

 8.  Schedule a meeting with my friend to discuss plans to promote my Soaring Heart design ( amongst other big ideas

9. Dust off my script and prepare for another performance with my social justice theatre group in November

10. Plan fun family outings for the fall to make up for a wet bummer of a summer
Several Septembers ago Daddy-O bought me a flowering plant from the supermarket that had this little sign in it. We thought it was funny that "Back to School" would be a celebratory occasion and worthy of flowers.
This year I appreciate it.

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