Can I Get a Summer Do Over?

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School starts next week and I’m looking back toward summer as it falls behind the horizon creating a silhouette of bare feet, travel, and slow mornings.  I had such high expectations for how the summer would play out – which is usually how let downs start.  High expectations.  What goes up too high must come down with a crash.  Or something like that.

I was going to play with my kids, create wonderful memories, take weekend trips, be an awesome neighbor, do a ton of house projects, and lose a bunch of weight.  It felt like New Years with all my unattainable and perfect resolutions.

Honestly, though, we did create a summer bucket list and almost everything is crossed off.  So summer hasn’t been a total bust.  But the absolute one thing that I feel like I failed at was being a good mom.

You guys, summer is so hard.  Everyone is home and no one is happy.  I resorted to letting them watch so much crap on YouTube Kids because the only time they wouldn’t fight or whine or ask for more juice was when their butts were on the couch and their noses were in a screen.  And then I realized that the junk entering their minds was not even close to what I wanted my kids spending hours watching.  Plus, I can’t stand to listen to one more minute of Pat & Jen talk about Minecraft in their annoying cartoon voices.  Amen?

So, we took the iPads away.  And the screens.  And the iPods.  So much technology.  And you know what we found?

Our kids forgot how to play.  They literally don’t know what to do with themselves without an iPad in their hands.  They lay on the floor like injured animals.  Withering in pain and moaning gibberish about being bored and having nothing to do.  It was painful to watch.  Yet, I didn’t have any suggestions for them.  I sure wasn’t willing to entertain them.  I had books to read and Instagram Stories to catch up on.  You know?

Instead, I just got angry.  And impatient.  And my vocal chords reached levels that hadn’t previously been seen.  It was impressive, really.

At one point while a child grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled it down as far as he could, I grunted like a loud pig and looked at my husband with hurting eyes.  Somehow, I got out the only words I could.  “I neeeeed… the Holy Spirit”.  It was a truly spiritual moment, because what I meant to say was “break” instead of “Holy Spirit”.  What they say in Romans 8 about the Spirit praying for us in groans and mutterings must be true.  He overtook my mouth.  My poor, sweet husband just smiled and nodded before he walked out the door.

So this week, I sent my kids to camp.

And I suppose I should interrupt to tell you right now that this blog post isn’t going to have any suggestions of how to switch from the mom who sends her kids to Science Camp from 9-4 so that she doesn’t have to think of things to do to keep them off the iPad into the mom who creates lego towers, paper mache animals, and backyard summer camps.

I think we are all just ready for summer to end.  For them to put on their cute little school uniforms and march right out the door.

But, you know what I’ll be blogging about two weeks in the future?  It’ll be about how much I miss those two elementary age kiddos.

I’ll miss their morning bed head as they stumble down and ask to watch a cartoon.

I’ll miss their sweet voices laughing, fighting, and even yelling at me all day long.

I’ll miss making them lunch.  {Ok, let’s be honest – I won’t miss that at all.  I don’t even have to make them breakfast during the school year.  Benefit of low income neighborhood public schools.}  

I’ll miss those magical moments that happen after two hours of squirming on the floor in boredom.  Those moments when they find an empty cardboard box and ride it down the stairs with fits of glee coming from their mouths – and thankfully no injuries.

I’ll miss that absolute end of the barrel feeling when I can tell that mama is not only at the end of her rope and also at the end of her extra lifeline rope and demand that everyone put on their shoes and get in the car as we go on an adventure.  Fresh air can usually fix everything.  Unless it’s above 80 degrees.  Then we go to Target to buy Oreos.  An equally adventurous adventure.

And all of this future thinking makes me wish that I could head back to the beginning of the summer and start over.  Redeem the moments I stuffed an iPad in front of their face for the sake of peace and the nights I shuffled them off to bed without snuggling or reading to them.

I know we’ve heard it a million times, but there are limited summers left with our kids until they are gone into adulthood.  I have about 11 left with Jonah.  Eleven.  And really much less than that when I think about girlfriends and drivers licenses and teenage jobs crowding into our lives.

So, whether you’re the mom who already sent her babies off on their first day, the one who homeschools anyway so could care less, or the mama who is dreaming of the day when she doesn’t have to change a diaper and gets to pick out school shoes instead, let us stop for a minute and remember that our time with them is so short.

Breathe.  Turn on the iPad for 30 minutes to get a break – it’ll be ok.  Go outside on an adventure.  Lighten up on the house rules.  Buy some new lipstick next time you’re grocery shopping.  Sign the kids up for a monthly activity crate!  Go to the library.  Most importantly – eat some ice-cream.  Do those messy slime experiments.  Read all the books.  Go for that bike ride.  Push that little one high on the swing.

I want to stop living as though my kids are in the way of my life and start living as if they are one of the best aspects of my life.

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