Here we are–August, and the end of summer is in sight, counted by number of weekends left. And I mourn it.
There’s always stuff we didn’t fit in during the summer–stuff I put off during the rest of the year, saying, “Oh, we can do that in the summer!” Do you have a list of things you didn’t get done yet? Here’s my list:
- Getting my son together with his oldest friend whom he’s not seen in a year (I promised they could get to see each other multiple times over the summer!)
- A once-a-month trip to see grandparents
- Going to Knoebels’ Amusement park a second time (during said trip to grandparents)
- Free Fridays at the PA history museum for my history buff son
- Playing in the Yellow Breeches Creek
- Playing in the creek at a local park, where the kids love to build dams
- Getting together with a number of different families we never have time to get together with during the school year
- Going to the fossil pit and rest of attractions at Montour Preserve. (That’s been on my list for YEARS. My grandmother took me all the time as a kid, and I’ve STILL not taken my kids!)
- Going walking regularly at local parks with good trails, letting the kids bike. (Not. even. once. yet. )
- Yoga once a week at the gym. (Went once so far.)
- Swimming often at the lake, our only access to swimming around here.
- Re-organizing kids’ rooms, a number of closets, school supplies, kitchen cupboards. (That could be it’s own long list, but I’ll spare you. I’ve started on one project in that list.)
- Plan curriculum and lesson plans for this coming school year
- Read aloud to my kids every day for fun. (But I find this works only if we’re actually home. What’d’ya know?)
- Take advantage of the library’s awesome summer kids programming on Thursdays (It’s over now. Didn’t get to even one.)
- Check out a free morning kids’ movie at the local theater. (Never got there either.)
- Take the kids bowling, using that free pass we got from the library.
- Enjoy days where routinely being home leads to boredom, then boredom leads to the kind of creativity that I remember as a kid living on a farm at the top of a hill with nowhere to go.
I won’t even get into my list for myself–my own personal and professional goals that concern me and not the kids! (I’m afraid to even make a list of my personal goals of finishing a final edit of my novel, prepping to teach new classes in the fall for junior high ages students, and getting outside to exercise every day….)
(We did manage a family vacation, thankfully!)
You may have realized that my list reveals a Catch 22. There are some mutually exclusive goals there. I can’t actually take my kids to all those places and give them the kind of summer I had (where boredom leads to creativity). I can’t take them once a month to see grandparents without missing 4 or more days of time to accomplish other things going on where I live.
Everything you say yes to is an intrinsic no to something else. It’s just true. I’ve often tried to beat that math. I can do this and that. We can meet at the park with those friends in the morning and still attend that other event. This is the struggle summer has given me for years now. After a school year of never having time to do those special things, I ma trying to fit in as many as I can in approximately three months. But a yes to something is STILL a no to something else. You can attend two events in the same day and therefore think you can say yes to everything–but the principal still holds. You are saying no to something. Is it sleep? Is it time kids need to rest? Is it your or their patience or wit (disappearing under stress or too-much-busyness)? Time at home to keep up with housework? Or the garden? It’s ALWAYS something.
And I really dislike that. I want to sleep in–because we can! I want slow, leisure time! I want the garden. It’s peaceful and restorative to me to tend one. But a previous summer taught me how imperative it is to be home enough to actually be able to care for and harvest the food. That was the summer I managed to take the kids away for almost a whole week each month of the summer to see grandparents. And go on a family vacation. And work a couple of conferences. We just were not home a ton. And produce grew and rotted on the vine before I could get home and known it was ripe!
Now this summer was different than the others in that something beyond my control dictated that I didn’t go out of town as much. But I also didn’t do a lot of other things on that list. I’ve been tired and recuperating from an unexpected injury. That has forced me to say no to a lot of things. Just so I could say “yes” to–drum roll please: lying in bed with an ice pack. Being still in a quiet room, in pain. Slowly, gradually, recovering function. Managing to just make meals for my family and get the dishwasher emptied. (There were days that seemed in insurmountable task. It was mentally exhausting to look at that dishwasher; I wondered how I or anyone, had routinely emptied it. Every. Day. (!)
So yes, this summer was “worse” for me in the sense that I didn’t accomplish even more of my “fun” to do list and my “necessary” to do list. I had to say no to some travel, some plans, some visits with friends, some things I wanted to be involved in. And I’ve looked back and have seen times did push it–days I expected too much of myself, thinking that just because I was getting better that I was well enough to expect myself to be ale to manage a full plate like I had done when completely well.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t want to say no to whole categories of things. Our summers have been a little bit of everything (meaning that I’m disappointed we didn’t get to do more of many things. But for me to do any of those things more often, I’d have ot skip others entirely. Do I want to have the kids not do the library reading program at all? Not swim at all? Not go out of town at all? Not make play-dates at parks with other families at all? Cna i sacrifice those in order to exercise more or get the kids ot more programs? I’ve continually let myself get frustrated by the inability to accomplish certain things with the kids/for the kids–experiences I want them to have. But they really cannot have it all!
My challenge for next summer is to choose not to be frustrated by what I choose. What I want and desire for our summer isn’t actually possible. I simply need tocommit to what I’ve chosen and stop allowing frustration about it to reign. My kids can have the summer of being home and playing outside all day, splashing in the kiddie poo and running in the hose water–getting tan and doing–(well, I don’t know exactly all that they’d be doing). We’ve never had the kind of long summer home that would show me what new things they’d do with that time outside.) Or my kids can have the summer that connects them to all their close friends from various places whom they do not see during the year. Or we cna go to all the activities at parks, libraries, theaters, etc. Or we can do some of all of that–a smattering of things not to repeated–until perhaps next year. ut whatever it is, I challenge myself to come ot peace with that reality.
NO one can really do ti all. Even if they manage the facade of it, there’s always something neglected, even if it’s not visible or it’s behind the scenes. (like my neglected garden of a previous year or spring/summer cleaning never done, or lack of sleep/rest evident in the kid’).
In an effort to be content, we did do some things this summer:
- one outdoor entertainment at a local park
- short family vacation
- one day at Knoebels’ amusement park
- reading aloud to them, some days
- two VBS weeks they really wanted to go to
- one short trip to see grandparnets
- doing the library reading program, even if we missed all the events: the magician, the reptile guy, the puppet show, etc.
- play dates with a few families on our list
Summer is not the endless promise it seemed to me as a kid. The endless, day-less entity in which I could get lost nad not even reckon time. (That was glorious though, wasn’t it?) Summer is finite and really only 12-16 weeks long.
In all of this, I am accomplishing one big goal, no matter: summer is, for my kids, different than the rest of the year. It’s a time of perceived freedom–later bed times, sleeping in, virtually no cap on daylight so play outside in the evening extends… Maybe that’s’ all they really need in the end—not my long list of plans in my head.
Does anyone else struggle with such issues in the summer?