Last week was the first full week of my boys summer vacation. I don’t like that it is their summer vacation and not mine, so I decided that this year, I am taking back summer vacation! My life will not revolve around little boys and every want and whim that they could possibly have/want/need, instead it will revolve around what is best for our family and time together, precious time that we miss out on during the school year.
Two weeks ago tomorrow, my boys got off the bus at noon after an early release and I decided that I would let the, have their day. We went to the library to sign up for summer reading and when we got home they could play, have screen time, WHATEVER, because I had a plan for the following day. That afternoon while my boys played so nicely together and independently, I found a bunch of craft sticks and wrote chores on each of them, then placed them in a pretty jar, right in the middle of the table.
The next morning, the first full day of summer my boys awoke nice and late(happy happy joy joy) and as I got breakfast out they asked, “What’s that?” I happily told them our summer plan, every morning, pick one stick, do that one chore, tidy your room, and then you can have screen time, but no screen time until your room is tidy and your chosen chore is complete. I grimaced while waiting for whines, groans, etc. Instead, my boys each happily picked a chore, did it, and declared, “that wasn’t too bad.” This mama was riding on cloud 9!!! Next on the list was to break it to them that we would also be having 30 minutes of quiet time a day during the summer, since the chores went so well, I decided to wait until lunch to break their hearts about quiet time…
While 3 hungry boys munched on their lunches after a low key morning at home, I told them the quiet time plan. 30 minutes of quiet time starting with a page in a workbook, writing a letter to someone, or journaling, followed by reading, coloring, or playing quietly AND independently. I need this time!!! I need this time to work with my youngest on his fine motor and kindergarten readiness skills, and I need this time for my SANITY!! Want to know what happened when 30 minutes was up? 1 child said, “that wasn’t so bad,” and another child said, “I loved quiet time.” Hallelujah! A successful day 1 of summer vacation. The rest of the week was more of the same, with a little more resistance on quiet time, but we did manage to establish this as our routine. Everyone was getting along, playing together, sharing(gasp!), and then… week 2– the first full week of summer vacation began…
Week 2–the honeymoon is over. Everyone is fighting, everyone is moody, nobody knows how to share. It’s like 3 monsters came in to replace the 3 happy, agreeable boys from the week before. I can’t quite relate to the relationship my boys have with one another because 1- I’m a girl and 2- my only sibling is 9.5 years older, so we both basically grew up as an only child. So here are my 3 boys, all 23 months apart together 24/7, my husband and I don’t even spend that much time together. We live in a pretty small house to boot. The interaction, the interrupting, and the over stimulation is constant. God bless my boys for putting up with one another, on the days they do, and now, thanks be to God, I’m getting a better understanding of why sometimes they just can’t.
By Tuesday, I was exhausted, but I rallied all the energy I could muster and the boys and I spent the day with a dear, sweet friend of mine, their surrogate “Auntie.” We went out to lunch and out to ice cream. We had a full, lovely day together. By that evening, my fireman had to go to a union meeting and I legitimately had no energy left, so after dinner I let the boys play outside with our neighbors while I washed the dishes(yup dishes again) and cleaned up, and took a few breaths to myself. My breathing was promptly interrupted by Evan running in the house to tell me that Christopher was stuck in a tree. I figured as soon as I got out there, he would be making his way down like the boss he is in the tree tops, but low and behold, he had climbed the skinniest, wimpiest bush like tree in the yard, and sure enough, there was not a single branch he could step on to hold his skinny body mass for him to get down. I had a few options. 1-Jump and I’ll catch you–unfortunate result would be flat mommy and broken bones for the both of us, or 2-ask my 4 year old neighbor to please run and get her daddy. I went with 2. While we waited for little legs to run as fast as they could, Christopher decided he should shimmy up the tree a bit more to continue to hold on. I thought this tree was going to break in half, it seriously began to lean and bend to one side. Thankfully my neighbor came and saved the day. After a few more minutes I bribed them inside with an episode of American Ninja Warrior if they could get into pajamas as fast as they could.
After the show was over, I was more than ready to put these boys to bed. Evan had been complaining for quite some time that his legs hurt, so I rallied one last time for the day and went in the bathroom in search of some muscle rub that my dad had left behind last time he was visiting. I found the jar I was looking for and read the label, then I weighed my options, continue to listen to whining or apply the cream? I applied the cream. I applied the arthritis cream to my 7 year olds legs. My husband laughed and shook his head, but seriously what harm could it do? It wouldn’t give him arthritis and if it saved my sanity, what’s in a name!
By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was feeling a bit more refreshed, I got up, made breakfast, did the dishes, watered the plants, helped the boys do their chores, and worked out. I felt accomplished for only 9:47 am, until I realized that Logan’s speech therapy appointment was supposed to start 2 minutes ago, and I had completely forgotten about it, oopsies. Thankfully the receptionist was very understanding and got us in at 5:30, after which we got to my nieces softball game as they were shaking hands and saying good game, oh well.
Thursday came and I had enough of this week, so I hired a babysitter so my fireman and I could go grocery shopping and have an uninterrupted conversation if we wanted, or we could eat dinner and shop in silence and that would have been fine too. We had a lovely date and I am looking forward to more of these this summer. Because even though summer time is a kids dream of no school, no homework, no running after the bus because mom can’t get her act together in the morning, it is not all about the kids. And if I make my life all about my kids, I will take my eyes off of God, the author and creator of everything beautiful that I have. If I take my eyes off of God, I will forget that he made these beautiful beings that are screaming at each other and that he makes no mistakes. If I take my eyes off of God and put my kids wants needs and desires in front of everything else, our lives, our marriage, and our family will fall apart and we will raise narcissistic, entitled kids who turn into narcissistic and entitled adults which is not something we are striving for.
So this week my goals remain the same, to make memories and to let my kids be kids. Every day does not have to be a memory making outing, I hope they have memories of vacuuming, watering the flowers, being my laundry helper, or cleaning the bathroom, all memories that will point to being part of a family, serving one another and ultimately serving a loving and faithful God.
PS-This blog was joyfully written during the first 24 hour shift out of 2 or 4, I’m not sure what I’m dealing with this week, so in these cases I go day by day
PPS-this blog was joyfully interrupted by, “umm, mom… there’s a dead animal in the yard,” Followed by the phone call to my fireman that went like this, “Hey honey, how do I dispose of a dead animal in the yard and then how can I un see what I just saw?”