This is Your Summer

Kristi writes for Juggling Normal and Medium. This post first appeared here: This is your summer, and is republished in full with permission.

May is always an anxious month. The seasons are changing in both hemispheres, and in the US, school is nearly over for the summer, and the anticipation of 57 million kids counting down to pool time and lazy days is palpable.

The joy of summer!

How do you feel about it, Mama?

Our three kiddos went to school just 35 days this year in person (or will have by year-end), so summer came soon. We have kindergarten graduation, field day, year-end assessments, a few t’s to cross and i’s to dot, and pictures to take, a tentative field day, and that will be that, the end of the year that wasn’t.

I don’t know about you, but I feel exhausted, drained, emotionally spent, and just about as grateful as I’ve ever been. Yes, it was impossible — the uncertainty and last-minute changes drove me mad; virtual school was a nightmare, but… it wasn’t all bad.

The teachers, other students, and parents saw each other. It was real life, and we opened our homes, and we were in it together. Literally, with five laptops and five zooms open for hours each day, it didn’t matter where my husband and I were in our home; we had to watch our language and make sure to get out of our PJs right away.

At first, it felt like an invasion of privacy, but soon, it was feel-good white noise. I’d hear a mom shout and a dog bark and a kid apologize, and I’d smile. I’d listen to another student ask for help and a dad mumble, can you wait until I’m out of the bathroom? And I’d get the giggles.

I’d hear things that broke my heart, too, like “my mom and dad both had to work today, but they told me not to tell you that I’m home alone.” I’d hear teachers reminding the students to “get up, close your laptop, go out to the backyard (after you check with your parents!) for some fresh air and sunshine because you’ve been staring at the screen too long”, and I’d wonder if they took their own advice.

I talked to a mom who made sure a neighborhood kid got home ok, because no one met him at the bus stop, not even during the 9-day below-freezing cold spell.

All the moms, even the fancy moms, didn’t have a chance to put on makeup every day, to do their hair, dress up, or get it together this year, because some days, what was the point? And, I have to admit, we all secretly thought it was amazing.

We got used to seeing each other look like people instead of Instagram filters. I’d stare at my friends and truly see them, with their guards down a bit. They weren’t made up, but they were still glowing.

We saw each other break down too. We broke for anything and everything, nothing and all of it, and we didn’t judge each other because we knew we were on the verge of a breakdown too.

I know there’s a lot of lingering disappointment out there for what was missed, postponed, or canceled. I know we had more faith in our neighbors before we learned they weren’t the kind of people to take one for the team. But no matter what, you’ve got to look for the good — It’s a survival skill.

In case you missed it, check out Kristi’s post, 7 Habits of Happy Moms!

It’s hard to live in the moment, though, when the moment feels too big to hold. It was relentless, and we aren’t out of the woods quite yet.

This year, we held our breath until we couldn’t anymore, and we haven’t had a chance to exhale either, so if you need a reset before the kids come home from school, take one.

Take a day or two to yourself, to breathe and create a game plan for June and July, to schedule camp, or ask for help, to make a plan, or just read a book and reclaim your peace. This is your summer too.

Then, if you still feel like you may not be quite ready, try the exercise shown below. You are ready, Mama. You are meant for this — You’ve been amazing for more than a year, and you’ve got this too.

Instructions

Take a pretty jar, fill it with 18 marbles for each kid, and put it on the shelf in your office. You can use shells or sea glass or pretty rocks or whatever you collect.

But each year, on their birthdays, on New Year’s Day, Mother’s Day, or the first day of summer vacation, remove a marble. Every year on that day, take out one marble for each kid.

See, the marbles represent years, and whether you measure birthdays or summers, it captures how many you have left before your kids leave home.

It works because you’ll see how few marbles there are to start. Depending on their ages, you might have to start with less than 18 marbles. You’ll see how quickly they dwindle and how fleeting it truly is.

This time that you have, even if it isn’t perfect, even if it’s fraught with uncertainty and inconvenience, and you’re reeling from pandemic life, it’s all you’ve got.

Don’t forget to love it — your children, your motherhood, this summer — it’s just a moment in time, but it’s your moment. Enjoy your summer.

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