It is almost that time. The school year is winding down. My favorite time of year is right around the corner. We are sick of homework and school projects. Let’s wrap this thing up and bring on SUMMER!!!
I experience these feelings every year. As a stay at home mother summer means that I get to spend many warm days with my four children. I relish every day that I get with them because one day soon enough, they will be too big to spend their days with me. It is such a treat to sleep in each morning and have our summer weeks of leisure. We talk and laugh and frolic barefooted through the fields of tall green grass. Stopping to take a moment to lie on our backs, on the warm earth and stare up at the blue sky as the white, fluffy clouds float past…….
(Insert here that sound of a record being scratched by a needle.)
Oh wait, that is actually a Tide commercial. Sorry. That is NOT what will happen here. Let me tell you what summer really means to a stay at home mother of four young children.
I love my children, more than life itself. I would give my life for them without hesitation. That is what a mothers love is all about. But if you say that a summer with your kids is all lollipops and rainbows, I am calling you out, Ma’am.
Summer begins innocently enough. I am thrilled to not have a routine. I don’t have to drag everyone from their beds, force them to eat breakfast, beg them to get dressed or badger them to brush their teeth and hair. I won’t be packing any lunches or backpacks. There is no mad rush to try to get to school before the bell announces that your kids are in fact late once again.
I lie in bed that first summer morning, smiling. This must be what heaven is like. Then in walks the first kid. He looks mad. He says he is just hungry. Off to the kitchen we go, breakfast for two coming up. It is always pleasant when you have one-on-one time with your child. The problems come when another kids enter the picture. You get breakfast ready and sit beside your sweetie. You smile at one another. This is going to be delightful. Then here comes kid number 2.
Before he even gets down the stairs good, kid 1 and kid 2 are already arguing. What are they arguing about? Who knows. I am pouring orange juice and can totally block out a tiff between two brothers. Next thing I know, I turn around to see them rolling around on the floor. What just happened here? That’s right people, with brothers it can actually go from cordial to a violent altercation in a mere 12 seconds.
I am not new to this mother thing. I have a squirt bottle for such occasions. If it is good enough for cats, it is good enough for my kids. I get both boys back seated at the breakfast table. It would appear that all the commotion woke the last two kids. Now all four are at the table ready to eat. Well, there went my warm breakfast.
I make three more plates and deliver them to three sleepy faces. Some of my kids wake up in pleasant moods. Some wake in such a state that I often wonder if they slept at all. The happier ones at the table manage to irritate the moodier of the group, which results in some minor name calling and insults. I will not listen. I am going to eat this cold egg white omelet if it is the last thing I do.
By now there is a stream of constant bickering and debating. Then someone cries. Then another. So-and-so has his finger in my face. So-and-so is touching me. So-and-so is eating off my plate. It becomes a non stop tattlefest. My daughter chooses to stand in the back ground giving everyone bunny ears, only adding insult to injury. I declare breakfast is IN THE HISTORY BOOKS! I wasn’t very hungry anyway.
Now mind you, this is day ONE and we barely made it through breakfast. There is NO WAY all four kids can stay cooped up in this house all day much less all summer or I will be locked in my closet, rocking back and forth, shoving chocolate Ho Hos in my face.
Luckily a few days into summer break our association pool opens. Ahhh the swimming pool. Responsible for keeping families sane all over this great land. No one wants to fuss at the swimming pool. They are living the dream after all. Water play, warm sun and friends to play with. What more could any child ask for?
As they play, having the best time of their young lives, do they even notice me though? Do they pay attention to what Mom’s pool experience is really like? Do they ever wonder how that bag packed full of towels, sunscreen, floaties, snacks and toys actually made it to the pool? Do they see how, instead of relaxing with a good book, I am at constant attention, monitoring four children as they play and splash? I worry as much about them developing skin cancer, as I do about them drowning. It is an oftentimes stressful situation. I am constantly smearing sunscreen on someone as I pull someone else back from the brink of death in deep end.
The way I look at it, summers should be a magical time for kids. I have many fond memories of summers as a child. This is the time of your life when you shouldn’t have a care in the world. I work so hard to create childhood memories for them. I want them to look back one day and feel as though they had a great childhood.
I would not give my summers with my children for anything in the world. It is often times stressful and trying. We get on each others nerves most days. By the end of the summer I will be 100% ready for them to go back to school. But they are only kids for such a small part of their lives. I treasure these times.
Besides, this year I have a plan. In those moments when I am questioning why I ever stopped working 7 years ago, just to stay at home with a bunch of crying, whiny, argumentative, stubborn, smart-mouthed, demanding kids, instead of melting into a puddle of tears on the floor (every mother has these days), I will grab my box of Ho Hos, head to my closet, and I will eat those cakes, one by one, until I remember why it is I became a mother.
I became a mother to experience the highs as well as the difficult times. I became a mother for better, for worse. Being a mother is not ever an easy job. It is the hardest job you will ever have. It is also the most rewarding thing you will ever do. Even my absolute worst days as a mother, I gain strength and knowledge. Being a mother means screwing up often. You must get past the guilt of your shortcomings and just do the best you can, one day at a time.
You see, that moment when I emerge from that closet, with disheveled hair, swollen eyes and chunks of chocolate cake still stuck to my face, it will be a victory. I made it. I am a REAL mother. I learn a little more every day. I get a little stronger every day. My children are my purpose. I must have done something pretty good in my life to be rewarded so richly.