Fall is a time for change. It's always exciting and heart breaking to hear and read about the little ones heading off to school. Whether it is Pre-K, K, or college, fall is the season for letting go and allowing our children to embark on great adventures- without us. Every summer, it has been a tradition for me (well, I may have just done it last year, but let's now call it a tradition) to recap my summer with my two little beans and reflect on stay-at-home parenting.
This summer for me was different. It was my sixth summer full-time momming-it and honestly, it was the best and it was the worst. I could write a Dickens novel about this summer. It was good because we have a groove. I am a big schedule person and being unscheduled causes me major anxiety. After many years, we finally have a really nice, unscheduled schedule. I've (uh, sorta) figured out the perfect mix of TV/crafting/adventure time/quiet time that allows the kids to be engaged yet not overstimulated, and for me to not lose my mind. We also have a really fantastic network of friends, allowing me to have some adult time while also entertaining the kids. While we didn't go on any major vacations this year, we did spend some time with my awesome and crazy family, which was a blessed reminder of how important roots are. It was also a great summer because my kids are growing up. Char started using the potty in June and my job as Numero Uno Bum Wiper greatly diminished. They can put their own dishes in the sink. They can put their own clothes in the hamper. They can get themselves cups of water and turn up the volume on the TV.
It was a hard summer because BEING A PARENT IS HARD. They never put their clothes in the hamper. They never get their own water and they always lose the remote. Summer with the kids is hard because I served as volunteer lifeguard every time we went to a body of water. The girls challenged my patience daily, hourly, every minute. (I like to say, I have a fine line between Mary Poppins and Can of Whoop Ass.) Andy challenged my patience because, by virtue of his job, he got to leave the house every day without them. He got to go to the bathroom by himself. He had uninterrupted conversations. By virtue of his baseball schedule, he got evenings where he came home to quiet and peace. He missed the witching hour and the bitching hour. He missed dinner, bath, and breakdown.It's simple: chillin' by the lake is fun. Chillin' by the lake with kids is hard work disguised as fun.
It was a hard summer because being a stay-at-home mom is a 24/7 job. But a weird job. It's like working all morning on a big report, stepping out to use the restroom, and finding out that your co-worker put the project through the shredder. Or your co-worker pees in your office while you were at a meeting. Or your co-worker eats your lunch. Or draws on your wall. It's like you are so tired from a day at work, and it's 1 am, and your co-worker climbs in bed with you and says, "I"m not sleepy! Wanna get some work done?"
And, now, it's all over. I returned to work last Monday. For the last six days I have gone pee by myself and held several uninterrupted conversations. As the leaves change from green to red, I will miss many a bedtime meltdown or weekend adventure as I turn my attention to my job. This was the worst summer because, even though the kids are exhausting, I love them more than anything in the world and I love the challenge of being their mom. The night before my first day back to work, I sat by their bedsides long after they had fallen asleep. I stroked their hair and stared at them for a long while. I spent every moment with them for 8 weeks but I was worried. I took a mental picture of them at that precise moment. I never, ever want to forget what they looked like this summer. I never want to forget how their hair lightened in the sun and the exact tan lines formed on their skin from day after day at the lake. I never want to forget how Caroline's eyes look so deep and sincere or how my heart skipped a beat every time I picked up Charlotte and she placed her face on my shoulder. I never want to forget all of the silly things they said and did. I never want to forget how the minutes feel so long but the days feel so short.
Change is upon us again. After months of holding onto my children, it is time to let them go again. It's time to trust them to the care of others and to covet our time together each brief morning, night, and weekend. It's time to let them go a little bit so they can figure out who they are and I can remember who I am. It's only a matter of time before summer will be upon us again and I will return to work with my two favorite co-workers.