Tag Archives: back to school

The summer of her discontent, or not…

As I sat down tonight to blog (oddly, not about what you’re about to read, so you’re welcome for the topic switch!), I forgot my password, as I do every single time I sit down to my computer for one reason or another. I am completely the reason I cannot have nice things, and it is part of my charm. Sitting at the keyboard, I racked my brain trying to remember what email address I even use for this thing, when I heard footsteps coming down the hall in my direction. Since I am the only one home right now who was not in her assigned bed, I knew it was one of my kiddos. And, to be honest, I wasn’t surprised.

“Hey, you. Go to bed,” I sighed – not looking over my shoulder because everyone knows if you make eye contact with the bed-wanderer, you have to have a conversation with that person that usually ends up with no fewer than 4 sips of water and a 2 snuggle minimum – wondering if I would ever figure out how to get back into this thing.

“Uhm, okay, nevermind…” Aaah, yes. My oldest. I knew it. Forgetting all about passwords and email addresses, I stood and moved to the couch and invited her to sit down with me. Tears threatened to spring forth from her eyes.

“What’s wrong, Lovey?”

Sniffling, the tears came. “I’m so sad summer has to end. We had so much fun…”

Tomorrow is the first day of school for our district, and trust me when I say that my children are very much ready for school to be in session and the routine and craziness that ensues from that. It’s obvious in their behavior and their actions that they need routine like fish need water, and the school year provides routine that summer does not, especially with me also not working a traditional full time schedule. So, they’re all ready. Go to school, kids. It’s time.

What shocked me was the fact that she said she had so much fun this summer. This summer was, thankfully in many ways, one of the most low-key, chill summers we’ve had. For the first time since 2015, I didn’t require any surgeries this year (yet!! lord knows there is time). So, I suppose that’s been a big bonus around here. But, fun? We didn’t do much! We put vacation on hold because we’re surprising them with a big trip in the spring, but we told them that we put it on hold while waiting for their dad’s work schedule to change. This, of course, is not a lie, but it was all they knew as to why vacation had to wait. We didn’t get to Kalahari like we had planned (but we will!) because I worked a ton this summer in my day job, and I ended up doing a lot of writing projects as well. As I rolled through the things we wanted to do and didn’t do in my head when she said, “fun,” I lost sight of what the summer did consist of…

We went to the drive in a couple times to see kids’ movies that they loved. We stayed up too late and caught fireflies. We wanted to get “real TV” and subscribed to DirectTV, so the girls were able to rekindle their love of mindlessly watching television without typing anything into Netflix. We watched a lot of Cartoon Network and got reacquainted with our friends in Teen Titans Go!, along with other shows we’d lost touch with (and I have rekindled my love affair with HGTV). We did a few small road trips but not even all the ones we wanted to! We had a pool up for a while, and then one of the littles replaced the plug with a water bottle cap – which is not effective at plugging a pool – so that wasn’t long lived. But, we also got a splash blob, which is my favorite thing ever. We grew a garden, and they learned about how plants go from seed to table, and they even got to help us harvest things (and still do, since it’s still going!). We celebrated two birthdays! We created outdoor living spaces on our patio and brought the backyard to life. They played in that backyard every single day, some days ALL day, and we had lots of baths that turned the water brown with dirt and smells that only can be recreated in Ohio summers. We did lots of library days and read books and made Lego things and painted  and all of that fun creative jazz. We had a lot of ice cream for dinner, and for other things as well, and ate out more meals in three months than we usually do in a year. We spent more money on little toys and gadgets they wanted than I ever care to admit. We said “yes” a lot more than we said “no,” and I suppose, at the end of the day, that’s what makes the memories that count when you’re small.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and unbridled happiness, however. We had lots of frustrating moments with raised voices and pounding countertops and slammed doors. Lots of tears over sisterly injustices and parents who “just don’t understand.” Lots of “PLEASE GOD GO TO SCHOOL SO YOU STOP KILLING EACH OTHER” and more than one occasion of one of us girls begging their dad to take us to work with him (usually me). We talked a lot about being grateful for what you have and taking care of those of us in this world who may not have as much as you do. We talked about a lot of big picture world and society issues. And, yes, lots of bedroom cleaning and chores and the things that no one ever wants to do. I tried very hard to get them to learn the importance of pulling their own weight, and how not everything is going to be fair because life is one big unfair bullshit ride a lot of the time, and what is more important is grace and being a team player and gratitude and all of that shit that you say and then you’re like “Yes, I am nailing this parenting thing cuz look at their faces looking at me, nodding and getting this…”

Those moments – the ones that involved lessons learned and some yelling and maybe some tears – are what stand out to me as a parent. The discontent is what sticks out to me, and maybe that’s because I am naturally predisposed to remember negative things and experiences and sort of file away the good for moments when the negative gets to be too much. But, as my blue-eyed, blond-haired, lookin’ more like her momma every day child sat hugging her knees, laughing as I talked to her about how good things need to come to an end and that she wouldn’t want the summer to last forever because it would lose its special magic, it hit me. Kids need time and energy and space to run and roam and to fight with each other and figure things out even when they drive their parents nuts with it all. What I saw as a summer of discontent with all of the things we “didn’t do” was a summer of fun and freedom for the kids, and it was such a fun time that the thought of it ending brought my kiddo to tears…

What the fuck happens to us as adults that just kills our joy?
proof-that-growing-up-is-definitely-a-trap-6

Now, that ^^ is just sad…
(but, I have spent enough time around both children and adults that I don’t doubt it!)

In one short month…

As I was enjoying dinner with my girls tonight, I looked over at our wipe off calendar at the date. I look at this calendar about seventy-five times a day, but for some reason, this glance this evening took my breath away. July 25. I couldn’t believe it. And, I have to admit, my heart sank a bit. See, in one short month, everything will change.

In one short month, I will walk away from my girls and into the classroom. I will implement lessons I have never taught to students I have never met. I will have put together a course that, for the first time, will use a book and movie as its content. I will start fresh, with new material and new students, and it will be sink or swim. I will meet the anxious glances and nervous giggles of two different classrooms of  different first-year students. I will have to turn away from the, “I will miss you SO much, Mommy” eyes at home and into the, “Please don’t make this suck” eyes of my students. I will have to hang up my Mommy hat for hours on end, donning the Associate Lecturer/Mentor/Tutor hat that my work demands I wear. My roles will change.

In one short month, my kids will have to fight for my attention with my students. My kids will beg me to play while the papers sit on my desk, glaring at me with their judgy eyes, nagging to be graded. I will be torn between having fun and being Mommy and doing what needs to be done to keep my students progressing and growing as writers. Emails will blink at me from my phone, beckoning me to put out fires that exist beyond the walls of my house. “I hate to bother you, but can you look at this?” will be a line I read over and over, while my kids play in front of me, knowing Mommy’s students need Mommy right now. They will smile at me, asking me to watch them play, while I type a quick response back to the student, praying my grammar was correct in the email so as to lead by rushed example. My attention will be divided by what I want to do and what I should do. My priorities will change.

In one short month, my husband will, as per usual, become third or fourth on my list. Between quick, “How was your day”s, to, “You’ll never guess what this student said today”s, he will feel the strain. He will smile and sigh when I once again need to grade papers instead of watching TV with him on the couch after bedtime. He will sit by me, laughing with Friends while I scratch my head, bite my purple pen, and try to figure out what I can do better to get my students to understand their own voices. Weekends will be full of, “Will you please entertain them so I can get this done?” instead of, “Oh, let’s go do that fun thing right now!” My friends who don’t get it will, inevitably, not get the attention they deserve. Our communication will be reduced to text messages; promises of, “Once this is over, we will get together” will likely ring hollow. I will become that person who only contacts someone when she needs something for a while. My relationships will change.

In one short month, I will continue my own education and go back to the classroom on the other side of the podium. I will have papers to write, things to read, assignments to do. My online class from this summer will be a distant memory as I sit in the classroom to giggle my own nervous giggles with first day jitters. I will have new responsibilities, be graded for my work and efforts, and attempt to do what needs to be done to hold my own academically. I will be evaluated for my performance on both sides of the classroom. My focus will change.

In one short month, so many aspects of my life will change. Back to school season allows for a multitude of transformations, but the good news is, none of them are permanent. Everything eventually will even out, water will find its level, and my world shall step away from the brink of chaos. My life, all of it, will finally find a rhythm. My kids will get the attention they need. My husband and I eventually shall find time for each other again, and my friends and I will hang out (even just once counts). My students shall find their pace and voice, and they will go beyond my expectations time and again. I will feel whole, not pulled apart a million ways to Sunday. Everything has a season. And, as my world spins out of control and then back again, pulled together by the gravity of reality and the need for serenity in the face of spastic motion, I will remember that all of it is worth it. My life may seem absolutely crazy in one short month, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It will get overwhelming, insane, and it will test my patience and sanity…

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But it will never be enough to make me quit.
It’s all too important to give up on.