Summer’s coming. Ominous words for those of us who quake at the thought of summer vacation.
I’m not one of those parents who love summer. Neither are my kids. We thrive on routine. We thrive on learning and discovery. We are better when we set goals. Last year my oldest son, decided to build a new Lego creation of his own design, each week of the summer. It was something he came up with all by himself because the boy just needs to have project going at all times. I thanked God all summer for that one mercy. It kept him busy and engaged for hours on end.
This year is going to be a little different. The boys are older and childhood things are passing away faster than I could ever have imagined. The usual tricks are not going to work. I’m freaking out. Just a little.
So while I’m freaking out I’m also counting my blessings. I’m thankful for overnight camp! Hallelujah! I’m thankful for volunteer opportunities and swimming lessons. These things are going to help keep the “I’m bored” and “Can I _____(do something Mom and Dad have already said no to)” at bay. At least a little.
One thing I am realizing is that it’s not just about keeping the kids busy this summer. Meeting their needs. It’s what summer has become about for many parents. Summer is all about the kids. Not always a bad thing but let’s remember moderation is good. It’s okay for them to have down time and bored time. To figure things out for themselves. To entertain themselves or just sit quietly for a bit.
But making them the centre of it all, is faulty thinking. As they boys grow, I’m not needed or wanted as much. I still need to be around but it’s not hands on parenting anymore. It’s more like, feet on the ground and mouth firmly shut kind of parenting. (Not really succeeding at the moment at that but as I pointed out to my teenager yesterday, it’s new for all of us! Parent’s included!) Observation and some stealth so they don’t know you are watching. Waiting for the invitation to enter their world. For the right moment to respond.
As all mothers know, multi-tasking is part of the job. So while doing all the above, I need to get back to my own life. TURN to me. That sounds selfish but it’s really not. For two reasons. One is that eventually the boys will be grown up and living their own lives. What will I do then if they are my entire life?
And two. I will go insane before that happens if I don’t take care of my needs and myself. I know this to be true because I’ve lived it already and was reminded of it again lately.
Two Wednesday evenings this past month, I went to a writer’s workshop through the public library. I hadn’t done anything like that for too long. I forgot how much I like to learn new things. I forgot how much I enjoyed the freedom of an evening to do something for myself. How much I like sitting anonymously listening to someone speak. It was refreshing. It was rejuvenating. I felt like myself. I need to do it more. And more, as seasons change in our lives. How about you? What’s something that’s been knocking on your heart, asking to be free once again?
We think we don’t have the time. But ask yourself, what things are you making time for that you don’t really want to or need to? That PVR’d TV show? Social media? Chores that can sit another day? (I never have a problem with this one.)
I understand when kids are really little, no, you don’t have time but eventually you will. Or you will need to find some. Because if you don’t, you will go crazy. Or you’ll be a slave to your children. Frankly it doesn’t end well for you or your children if let them become your master. You’re worshipping something fleeting and false. They become self-absorbed and entitled because you taught them that they are the centre of the universe. So do yourself and them a favour, and show them that they aren’t the world.
The other thing, and we all know it to be true, is in TURNING to your own needs, you’ll be a better parent. A better partner. A better person. If I have done something I like, and had time alone, then I am much more likely to behave like an adult. If I’ve shoved my needs off to the side, guess what? I’m more likely to be snappy, rude and irritated. It’s called an adult tantrum. It happens for the same reasons that kids have tantrums. You didn’t listen to their needs.
So this summer, on my to do list, are going to be a few things for me. It will be hard to TURN to them amongst the teenage angst, the chaos, the noise, the humidity. But I am going to try, so I can thrive this summer and maybe against the odds, make it a good one, full of memories we all will cherish in the years to come.