Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about having my kids home for the summer. I’ve missed them while they’ve been at school all year and I luu-huu-huu-uvvvv not hearing that sadistic alarm clock every morning or having to stuff hungry lunch boxes with yet another handful of goldfish crackers.
I’m also a little afraid. Because let’s face it, they’ve been out of the house all year and I’ve grown accustomed to my uninterrupted cup of morning coffee and my solitary and leisurely strolls through the supermarket. Basically, I’m out of parental shape.
Those parental muscles, toned with patience and energy from the long days of last summer are now flabby and useless.
When the last day of school came I was so pumped up. We decided against summer camp this year as it is brutally expensive. “This is going to be a blast! We are going to have the best summer evah!" I thought.
I felt similarly when I was jogging in place at the starting line of my first 5K run. I was ready and feeling confident. Then the actual running part came and after fifteen minutes, my legs were ablaze. I hadn’t breathed in minutes and I was trying to remember when I’d last updated my will because surely I was running towards death. I soon realized that I probably wasn’t as prepared for this thing as I thought I was!
Now the kids are home. It’s only been a few days and we have already had our moments when someone won’t share some random thing like a magic wand that is apparently absolutely vital and necessary to the mental stability of the other. And life just isn’t worth living if you don’t have a magic wand! There is fighting and crying because feelings are hurt and life just isn't fair!
And at that moment I feel my parenting muscle flex with tension and I take a deep breathe as I remember how this feels. I need to just get through it because in five minutes nobody will even remember what they were fighting about. I step in, diffuse the situation and feel like I might make it after all! There is such a thing as muscle memory and my parental muscles definitely remember. If I was working out at the gym, this is where I would look in the mirror, point at myself and say, "You still got it, hot stuff!"
It takes endurance to be in the company of three school age children for the long haul. I used to be so good at it! When they were little I had my moments but thoroughly enjoyed all three of them all day long. Now I’m not so used to it but I know I can learn to enjoy it again.
We have lots of fun things planned. Sure, it might be a little frustrating at times but the beauty of the summer is that there is no pressure. It’s so much easier to be relaxed when you aren’t constrained by a schedule. I’m clinging to that knowledge as my salvation. When someone has to pee every 10 minutes on a road trip or is as slow as molasses in January when looking for a pair of shoes, I will remember that we aren’t in a rush. After all, summer is for slacking.
Soon, my parenting muscles will be bulging ripped and toned yet again. I’ll be sporting a six pack of patience if you will. What I need to remember is that exercise in anything that is good for you seems painful at the time but usually makes you feel terrific. By the end of the summer, I won’t want to see them go. At the end of the day, I will have enjoyed every adventure. But I must admit. I’ll probably also enjoy that solitary cup of coffee after they’ve boarded the bus.