There are 7 ½ school days left until summer. Normally, at this time of year, I’m a bit of a mess. I’m a stay-at-home mom to two young sons, and when those two young sons are in school, I get a chance to breathe and “get things done.” As the school days dwindle, my opportunity to “get things done” dwindles, too. Once summer starts, it will be all kids, all the time. I won’t have the luxury of grocery shopping alone. I won’t have the luxury of folding clothes, cooking dinner or vacuuming the floors alone, either. I’m going to have an audience every time I shower, and I will likely be watching “Paw Patrol” every morning instead of listening to the “School of Greatness” podcast with Lewis Howes.
I can feel a little bit of my freedom dissipating as summer nears. It’s enough to fill me with anxiety and a bit of dread, even as my excited little men are counting down the days and are looking forward with glee to spend oodles of time with each other and with me.
For the past couple of years, I’ve succumbed to the anxiety and the dread a little bit. I’ve let my selfish desire for breathing room stress me out a little bit. Dare I say, I’ve even wallowed in self-pity a little bit. It hasn’t made for the smoothest transition into summer, and it hasn’t been loving or kind.
But I’m determined to make this transition into summer different.
The thing is, I get to choose how I react as summer draws near. Whenever I fight with reality, I lose. Whenever I focus on what I’m not getting or what I’m afraid I’m losing, my selfishness clouds over the potential for light and love to come in. When those clouds set in, I fail to see the beauty that is right there in front of me.
The truth is that I love The Professor and Huck Finn and all the curious, energetic, enthusiastic madness that comes with them. I love to spend lazy mornings in our pajamas and then meander to a park, or a library, or a museum whenever the mood strikes us. I love to eat Dino nuggets and grapes on a blanket in our backyard and run inside for a movie break when a torrential rainstorm blows in unexpectedly. I love exploring our little town with my little men, and I love not having the freedom to do so without timelines, checklists, homework and the pressures that generally go along with school-year schedules. Do I love not being in control? Do I love having to press pause on my yoga video every five minutes to locate a missing toy? Do I love sibling fights, or constant whining about snacks (dear Lord, why do kids need so many snacks?) No – I don’t. There are shadow sides to the summer, for sure. I’m an ordinary mother, not Mother Theresa. But the bickering and chaos are greatly eclipsed by the gift of time. I get to watch my sons grow and explore right by my side, all summer long.
I have just as much freedom in the summer as I do during the school year – it’s just a different type of freedom. It’s a freedom that comes in a package with the two little men I brought into the world and love with every fiber of my being.
It’s easy to lose sight of some of the blessings of motherhood when I get wrapped up in my own self-centered desires. I often fall into the trap that comes with a scarcity mindset. When I think there isn’t enough time for me to be a fun and involved mom AND have time to honor my own needs, stress sets in. I feel lack where I could be feeling gratitude.
This year, as the school year rolls to a close and summer begins, I’m determined to set aside my selfish fears. So now, the question is – how?
- ACCEPTANCE. Life is a series of seasons. We can have everything we want, though not necessarily all at the same time. The school season has been wonderful, and it has carried many blessings with it. The coming summer is another season to embrace and celebrate. Fighting against it is denying the laws of nature, and will only cause stress and suffering. My only choice here is acceptance – and it turns out that acceptance is a pretty magical thing. With acceptance, I can go with the flow instead of against it. With acceptance, I can experience peace.
- MINDFULNESS. My children are young, and they will only be young once (at least, that’s what every adult human with children of their own seems to tell me, repeatedly, every time I see them). I absolutely should enjoy them while they are young. I can’t do that if my mind is stuck in the past, or is worrying about the future. The key to enjoying my children now is to focus on the now. We may say things like, “There’s always tomorrow!” but that’s not necessarily true. All we have is today. My children give me the gift of their presence, and all they want in return is the same. When I’m with my kids this summer, I want to be with my kids. I don’t want to be thinking about the blogs I’m not writing or the chores that aren’t getting done. I don’t want my head in the clouds and my hands on the dinner plates. I want my mind with my children and my big hands in their tiny ones.
The choice is mine. I can fight that summer is quickly approaching, or I can accept it and roll with it. It’s insane to fight with reality, anyhow. I can’t delay summer, nor would I want to! Summer is my favorite time of year precisely because of the connection I have to my children, not despite it. Taking my time with them for granted is not only selfish, it runs counter to the values I hold most dear. Becoming a mom has without a doubt been the best and most transformational thing that has ever happened to me. Wishing away even an hour of time with my kids just so I can “get things done” or stressing out over my perceived lack of personal space is painful because it runs counter to the gratitude, love and abundance that I believe so strongly in and value so much.
There is more than enough time this summer to play at the parks, go grocery shopping, and sleep. There is more than enough time. There is no sane reason to hold on to the stress associated with the school year ending. There is only joy and peace to be found with acceptance and mindfulness.
I want to live my life with a focus on abundance. I believe that we have enough and that we are enough. There’s simply no other option than to dive into summer with the same exuberant, curious, enthusiastic energy that my kids are bringing. I know, without a doubt, that doing so will set us up for the best summer of all.