Do you hear that sound?
"I think that's one of them silent alarms!" (Saving Silverman)
No, no, no...Do you? Do you hear the sound I hear? ME NEITHER!!!! That's because there IS no sound! None. Nadda. Nothing but SWEET silence. HaHA! I did it! I made it through ten--that's TEN weeks of summer break! 10 solid weeks of playing "Julie the Cruise Director from Love Boat" to my two boys who looked at me like this every morning... wanting to know what the day's entertainment schedule was.
The break started off with SUCH high hopes on my part. We made a bucket list of all the little things their hearts and minds could think of that meant "summer" to them, I put together learning pages and a reading schedule that would make any teacher proud, and I was committed to keeping us steered on course to enjoy the Best.Summer.Ever. AND keep up with their learning so they could be ahead when school started in the fall (or in our case LATE summer) (But don't get me started on THAT one) .
I planned for us to visit museums and do science experiments at home with ideas found on pinterest (of course). We could have adventures in the morning and then quiet reading in the afternoon. My PLAN was to tick off every item on that list my precious little angels created, have wonderful fun filled days where we would all sleep til we woke up, giggle and play all day, and have water gun and water balloon fights and fall asleep under the stars with nothing but the warm embrace of each other to keep us warm.
LOUD RECORD SCREECHING SOUND
But, alas--this is me. And anyone who knows me realizes that everything I just planned-- stayed just that. A plan. The cold harsh reality is that I am NOT a cheerful "Julie the cruise director of the Love Boat" kind of mom with ideas galore and endless energy to keep my people motivated and happy.
Unfortunately I think I am more of a Miss Hannigan from Annie type.
For some insane reason I had this idea that I needed to sign my boys up for lots of activities to keep them busy and me not having to exert too much effort. These two boys of mine have been blessed (cursed) with an introverted overtired under motivated Momma who is all ideas and ZERO desire to pull off those ideas. I liken my ideas to kind of like when you're watching a sit com TV show or romance movie. It's all perfect--everyone says the right thing, does the right things and even in the mishaps everyone just laughs it off and there is never anybody feeling perpetually grumpy, tired and in desperate need of time to oneself. Just like we all know that real life is never like what we see on TV (you do know that, right?)(Sorry if I spoiled it for you). That's pretty much how my ideas play out too. The reality NEVER turns out like I imagined and hoped it would. And for some reason--I never change. I always HOPE I'll be different. But....no. Nope, sorry--still the same ole me.
So, I signed up for all these things and my hope was that in keeping them busy with activities that I merely needed to drive them to --I could sit on the sidelines and just watch and enjoy. That way THEY would have fun and I would enjoy myself too. Forced participation is always the bane of my existence. I even pictured myself relaxing on the sidelines with front row seats to them having the time of their lives as I sipped a Starbucks and read a book.
I tried to alleviate my misery by taking an evening once a week to go by myself on a hike. This was a precious gift Super Rock Star gave me when I think he could see I was about to crack into pieces from all of the stress I was shouldering. It helped, but I was still a walking misery of anger and outrage as I --for some reason--believed that being ANGRY about my lack of choices and freedom in how we spent our time (even though I was the one who did all of this) would solve it. Being the calm diplomatic one between the two of us-- he sat down with me (bless his heart) and listened to me lament over how this summer was a complete failure, how I was in a panic about how we were going to fit it all in and what was I supposed to do?
It was the most freeing thing to put into words the sense of failure I felt-- the anxiety over wanting to be a fun Mom and feeling like I'm not, my honest misery over how my boys drive me more crazy than I care to admit when I'm with them 24/7 and how him getting to "escape" to work every day just didn't seem fair. Do you know what was really awesome? He didn't once personalize anything I said. He could have called the "men in white coats" (and probably should have) to come and hall me away. He could have been resentful that I didn't seem to appreciate how all of his hard work was how we afforded to do all of these wonderful activities and such and lecture me on how I needed to stop complaining and be more grateful. Instead, he did what good men do. He helped me solve it.
We got out our calendar, we looked at our schedule and all of the things we already had planned (his gigs and work stuff) and the availability of days he could take off work so we could go and enjoy these bucket list items together as a family. That's what he does. He's SO good at it. Whereas I looked at this list and screamed inside "How is it even possible for ME to do all this?!!" He looked at it and said--"This will work if we all do this together here, and let's make it an adventure and group these things together here." And before I knew it, we had a great outline for how our month of July would look. It planned for everything and with the chaos of all the activities I had put us through in June behind us--there were spaces. Spaces and chunks of time where we DID just stay home. He managed to create time for me--where he and I would just lay in the pool together and relax while our boys stayed inside and played a video game or we would watch a movie or show upstairs while our boys watched one downstairs. He recognized that they are at a golden age where they can do things by themselves with us nearby and we don't have to make everything about spending every second with them. I LOVE that he is not only and idea person, but also a planning person and an implementing that plan person. Without him, I would still be stuck back in June with my bloodshot eyes bugging out, my hair standing on end and a nervous twitch from the insanity going on in my head.
Our summer ended up being great. Yes, we did a lot. Yes, it was probably more than we needed to do and no, I did not do a great job of keeping up with the summer learning that would make my boys teachers proud. I managed to fling math worksheets at them most every morning and had them mumble through a few pages of reading. BUT, we had fun. Sometimes all of us together ,sometimes my boys just having some good brother time, sometimes my husband and I having some good couple time and sometimes just me by myself---getting my beloved alone time on my Thursday evening hikes.
This summer taught me A LOT about what NOT to do. I don't know WHY I felt that I had to do and plan so much this year. I think it's because my boys are growing up so fast and time seems so short. It seems like a big clock is ticking down to when I won't get to do all of these things with them. To build memories. To do the things young boys are supposed to be doing. To be care free. But, what good is it to try to cram a lifetime of activities into a few weeks just so I can brag about it on social media or to try to rid myself of the ever fatal "Mom Comparison" mindset. It made me miserable and therefore my family miserable too.
Next summer I don't want to have such a big plan. I will be content if we do one family vacation and call it good. (I think Super Rock Star would wholeheartedly endorse this plan too) To tell you the truth-- my boys are THRILLED just not going to school. I don't HAVE to plan anything for them. They are boys. They are kids. They just know how to make their own fun. They are perfectly content having a sleepover with each other in a tent set up in our spare room. The best fun I had this summer was on those precious free days where I just listened to my boys lose themselves in their imaginary worlds--pretending for hours on end while I would be getting some house work done (yes, I finally did find some spaces for cleaning too). I would sneak a video or picture during those times that I will get to share with them some day. My hope is that those are the things that make them smile when they grow older and have kids of their own. "Remember when we played Avengers/Ninja Turtles and I was Hawk Eye and you were Mikey from TMNT?"
Those are certainly the things I will lock in my mind and look back on and smile. I hope I can just learn from my mistakes and not make everything a project, a to do, and a chore. But, to just relax and enjoy this time in life. And, no-- I probably won't be any stricter about keeping up with summer learning. Sorry Teachers! I love you, but we ALL need a break and that's what summer should be. For now, I am SO VERY grateful that summer break is behind us and that I am privileged to get to sit in my home. by myself. with the sweet sound of silence.