2017

Summer

After a quick, unexpected trip North, and some end of the year craziness, today was our first true day of summer break*.  And it was every bit as magical as I expected.

*this post was written earlier but sat for a while until I could get back to it.

I was eating dinner with a bunch of moms last night and someone asked the group which we prefer: the schedule and routine of the school year, or the relaxed laziness of summer.  Only two of us were solidly in the latter group.  Everyone else said they preferred the routine.  I was stunned that I was in the the minority, but after having another 12 hours to contemplate it, I still agree: the school year is something I endure in order to thrive in the summer.

Today the girls slept in till about 8.  I didn’t get as lucky because I have been waking up to run before N leaves for work, but the payoff being I have the rest of the day to devote to them with zero interruptions while I am doing it.

Sib woke up a quite a bit earlier but lazily rolled around in her bed until I was able to get to her.  I made oatmeal, one of my favorite breakfast meals because of the variety of ways it can be dressed up.  Today we had it with almond butter and honey, and a handful of chocolate chips to entice the girls.  And because in my mind, chocolate is always acceptable for breakfast. I accidentally grabbed only two bowls at first and then quickly added a third before MG caught my mistake of not factoring her in.

“What are we going to do next?” they asked as soon as they had put the last bite to lips, their bowls already forming a hard crust of leftover oats around the edges.  I instantly felt the doubt spring up in me for an anxious second.  For one thing, I did not have a solid plan for the day yet as I wanted to take a more laissez-faire approach on day one to get my bearings. Secondly, I did not want to be their source of entertainment.  I am determined to let them spend many hours of “boredom” this summer and try not to intervene.

It’s playtime right now while I do my morning chores, I responded and they marched off merrily, MG happy to have time to play with her toys and Bea happy for a play mate.  Easy as that.

I made quick work of my chores, every once in a while hearing some verbal skirmishes upstairs.  They just need some time to acclimate, I told myself, don’t intervene.

Thanks to her early morning wakeup, Sibby went down for a morning nap, with promise of an afternoon one as well.  I set the girls up on the deck, each with a glass pan full of dried rice, and enough miniature cats, water bowls, litter boxes, and balls of yarn between them to hopefully inspire some Montessori free play.  It kept them busy for a good hour and a half.  I could not believe my luck.

Lunch was crock pot roast beef, shredded and served cold, with a small dab of mayonnaise and a proportionately larger smear of mustard, presented on gluten free white bread. On the side, pretzels in the shape of pillows with a small pat of peanut butter inside, and a plug of peach applesauce. The girls ate fast, talking through the meal, over their excitement of our plans to go to the pool next.

MG has loved the pool since she was a baby, but the past three summers, we’ve had to bribe her to get her face wet and swimming lessons have been met with many tears of fear and frustration.  This year she turned the corner, even before we could get to the lessons (another parenting lesson to just wait until they are ready?).  She has been jumping in, going under, and even trying to swim on her own, much to her own pride (which we have happily been stroking). Today she told me the first thing she wanted to do at the pool was a head stand.

Going to the pool at the noon-2pm hour usually doesn’t yield a lot of friends for the girls to play with.  Most moms of young kids are home during these hours, napping under the cool AC.  But we were in luck today as a little girl about MG’s age was there and eager to practice headstands too.

While I watched them play, LB floating lazily between us, and me keeping Sibby from plunging head first into the water, my mind instantly began writing a hundred blog posts while I tried to ESP them to my phone, less than a dozen feet away, that may as well have been a hundred.  I also couldn’t stop stewing about the disparaging comment a mom made to me on our way in that had to do with raising girls (right in front of my own little tribe, no less).  I don’t get those comments often, but when I do, they stick with me for a little while, like a bloated mosquito bite.

I looked over to the “big pool” and watched two boys, feet dancing on the concrete, hands reaching out to smack each other’s chest, in an effort to butt each other into the deep end.  They reminded me of young rams, both showing off and claiming territory, horns clashing loudly and every once in a while, locking. I feared for their safety as they were close to a corner, close to a ladder, and close to other little kids.  I tried deftly with sweeping glances to see if another adult, perhaps closer, hopefully a mom, was also watching this display.  That’s when the mosquito of insecurity bit me again.  Like maybe I wasn’t meant to have boys because I am too careful.  Or maybe I have girls and that’s why I am so careful.  I don’t know, but it’s something that nags at me the rest of the time we are there.

In another part of the shallow end, a clearly high-school aged couple was engaged in making a Boomerang video.  He was crouching on the concrete, she was practicing her jumps in the water, each time making a different face or motion with her hands.  I was struck with the silliness that goes into making those.  But the end result never looks that silly.  When we’re watching them, we don’t really think about what it took to make. And I pondered some more about all I had to be careful for.

Thirty minutes after we arrived, adult swim was called.  I had to explain it to the girls and I knew exactly what they were thinking.  Those ten minutes to a kid are the longest ten minutes of the summer.  I was there for a quick bribe though, organic cheddar ducks and applesauce pouches.  As I handed out these particular treats, I thought, I could not be a more suburban mom if I tried.  But it’s everything I wanted and exactly what I pictured it would be as I was growing up.

I’ve arrived.  Not in any worldly sense, no the opposite, actually.  I’ve arrived at the intersection of my childhood dreams and factual reality.  And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Long live summer,

-smk

2017

After the last post, I think it goes without saying, I’m very excited for a fresh start to 2017.   I love getting on social media and seeing that I’m not the only person who feels this way.  It seems there are many of us in a state of reflection and aspiration this January and I’ve loved seeing what others are doing, whether it be food fasts, picking a word to focus on throughout the year, or the good, old-fashioned resolution.  Solidarity.

I, too, carry a torch of hope this January as I look ahead to the big picture of a whole year. Three-hundred and sixty-five days of a blank slate.  In 2017, I want to obtain SETTLEMENT, to feel PEACEFUL, and RESTFUL.  I don’t have any specific resolutions this year, but I have a lot of prayers and this verse that keeps coming up

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, ESTABLISH, strengthen, and SETTLE you.” 1 Peter 5:10

I’m praying this is the year we find our next church home, our core group of friends, and N finishes his doctorate.  I’m hopeful we can put our finishing touches in this house and make it feel completely like ours and a comfortable resting place for a long time.

I’m dedicated to strengthening my body through time spent in exercise everyday and strengthening my mind by reading more books that I like this year (2016 was kind of a bust for good books for me.  I either didn’t finish or didn’t like most of the ones I read. Plus having a newborn killed my pace for a while).

Right now sewing is my go-to hobby in my afternoon free time but I am behind on Sibby’s baby book and feel the pressure to catch up, and ultimately finish around her first birthday.  I also feel the call to write more and whenever I read a good book, it fills my heart with an even greater longing to do so. I’m hoping that more & higher quality input = more & higher quality output.

I’m paying attention to the way I start to feel a bit sad everyday around 3:30pm.  I’m not sure the significance of this despondent hour; if it’s due to the winter hours and that’s when the light begins to change from full sun to creeping towards sunset, or if it’s when the day starts to feel like it’s over because MG is home from school and my short window of leisure is running out.

I feel stretched thin in my time, to be sure. Managing the needs of the three little ones is a lot, on top of caring for the house, keeping up with hobbies, and the aforementioned exercise. I think it’s good to pay attention to little nigglings of dark feelings and try to root out if they are coming from a good place or a negative one.  So my ear is cocked, proverbially speaking.

Being stretched thin makes me aware that I cannot give each girl my best, and carries with it some guilt.  I can’t decide if this is coming from a place of mom-guilt, remorse, or a true need to manage my time better, so I am paying attention here as well. Trying to manage and schedule us well so that I can feel a satisfaction as I lay my head on the pillow with how I spent each day.  Perhaps that is chasing after a unicorn, so to speak, but I don’t want to look back and think I could have done better, or even given up one small thing that would make a huge difference.

Finally, Is is weird that I am so dedicated to this blog?  That I’m still pecking away at it in the face of a collective blogging demise and despite not turning over a dime for it? I think the answer is yes.  I have steered away from and turned down all offers of sponsored posts because I think they take away from my original mission of the blog, which is to tell my family’s story from my perspective.  I’ve never cared much about growing my audience or scaling it, so to speak, but wrote with a hopeful longing that my humble thoughts will find their way into the hands of the right people. And, the public nature of it keeps me accountable (I’ve found through many false starts that I am not a long-term journaler.  The public nature of this blog is what keeps it running.  The comments and likes feed the bear.)

2017, here I come.  Older and wiser, worn and sleepier.  A fulcrum tipping towards peace and rest, I do so hope.

-smk