We are on day two of summer break… MAY DAY! MAY DAY! Morse code… send in reinforcements!
I used to pride myself and question (yes, judge) the thought processes of those moms who were like “Ugh, summer break! What am I gonna do with these kids all day?!” Didn’t they WANT more time with their precious angels? Wouldn’t they thoroughly enjoy every extra second of quality time with their young children before their young children grew into teenagers who didn’t want to spend time with them?! Psshhh…
And then I had kids of my own.
In some ways I do really LOVE summer break. Without fail, when the school year moseys back around again, I get sappy and weepy and think about how much I will miss my dude’s cheesy face for eight hours a day. You get accustomed to them being there with you and it feels natural and complete. Who doesn’t love a picture perfect day at the beach or the zoo? I so love our tradition of making a ‘Summer Bucket List’ and trying to squeeze in as much fun and family time as we possibly can.
That simply cannot be every day, though. Now that my oldest and youngest are at the ages they are (6 and almost 3), they can play together. Oh, that is GREAT, you say. Built in playmates. So wonderful to have siblings. You are so blessed. Truly, cherish every day you get with them. They are only little once. Make all the memories and do all the stuff. Yes. But.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because I am most definitely not that. I adore watching them play together on the floor, their superheros and robots and dinosaurs scattered everywhere and their little voices animating the play. It can be magnificent.
In our family of two small boys, this wondrous beauty lasts all of about twenty minutes total out of a 24 hour day. Literally. The rest of the time is my little guy SCREAMING, my big guy YELLING, over who gets which toy, who gets in the tub first, whose Captain America shield is caught in a fierce tug of war. One pushing the other, one crying in a time out, one laughing maniacally over the others misfortune. One scraping their knee, one not sharing the legos, one getting their snack handed to them first or in the wrong color cup. It. Is. Exhausting.
I thought I had improved in limiting the yelling I had done myself this school year, and I had. But I have discovered in the past two days that is solely because with only one little dude in the house a majority of the day, there was far, far less of a reason to yell.
I have already tried calmly delivering my message, implementing time-out, hollering aimlessly louder than the boys to no avail, ignoring the bad behavior, rewarding the good behavior, and so on and so forth. We have soccer and swimming and tball to keep up busy this summer, so hopefully those things will help. Steve has taken the kids to the park both days trying to run them out of energy before our own levels dip dangerously low.
Maybe you have been blessed with one (or more) little sweethearts who would never behave in such ways. While I am definitely envious of you, I am happy for you. You hit the parent jackpot, gold star for you! I just know that I am not in the minority here. I know there are parents out there who are feeling a bit overwhelmed like I am right now. And I will not entertain the fact that it is poor parenting or “bad kids” that are strengthening my anxiety, because any of you who happen to know me know that I can be strict and care about my kiddos not behaving like assholes. I also believe that all kids are worthy of love and not innately malicious. They are little primal beings who we are molding into real humans.
It is an often thankless, backbreaking, exhausting job to handle the everyday ins and outs that thread together to make up the raising of a child. I really do not know how single parents or parents of more than two kiddos handle their everyday stuff. I would bet that most days they don’t know how they do it either, they just DO. Add in work, friends, holidays, birthdays, activities, family obligations… and you are often looking at the workings of unrelenting anxiety.
I know we will get through each day the best we can, and hopefully this is just a transitioning period from the structure of our school year routine. Tonight I am having a well-deserved brewski while writing this, and enjoying the quiet while my boys are all sleeping soundly. Little angels in their beds, almost causes me to forget the chaos that was today. Almost.
If you happen to run into me at the store or the 179th park that we visit this weekend and I appear disheveled, lost, and slightly insane… this is why. If I call you on the phone and have to hang up due to the unparalleled decibel of shrieking children in the background punctuating my sentences… this is why. And if I run into you and you appear the same way… I will consider you a soul sister and give you a hug. I will tell you that you are doing a great job even when you feel like you are failing. I will know.
Enjoy your summer break, teachers! You have certainly earned the reprieve. And parents, hang in there. It is a bumpy but beautiful, three month long, hot-mess ride and we must pace ourselves. Day 2 is in the books. Hopefully Day 3 is just a little easier. If not, take comfort in the fact that it is not just you struggling to reign in and entertain your little ones. Cheers to all of you guys just getting it done each day, and happy Summer Break!