Summer. It’s the season of barbecues, chasing ice cream trucks and fireflies, and sun-kissed skin. It’s days spent cooling off in the pool and counting down the days until vacation. It’s long walks during the sunset and cold beer on the porch. If you’re a stay at home mom, like me, it’s having your children around 24/7.
I have four children. There will always be yelling, crying, and messes. When we stay home, I’m playing referee. I’m watching food fly, toys break, and messes pile up. The baby gates no longer do their job with the 18-month-old and when I sit, trouble begins. There are days I feel like I am losing my purpose in this chaos. Going out helps. It not only offers a distraction, but it keeps the children busy.
Getting us loaded up is a challenge. As we pull out of the garage, I’m already a sweaty mess. Staying home is hard. Going out is hard. It is a matter of which battle I choose. Do I want to find myself growing bored and fighting my three-year-old over a page in the coloring book? (Let’s face it. We all do it.) Or do I want to stay on guard and worry that one of my children will run off? Every day is a battle in one way or another. By the time my husband gets home, I am running towards the bedroom for some much needed peace and quiet.
Through my rougher moments, I have found ways to give me somewhat of a break. I registered my children in a drop in daycare. If I truly feel like I am on the verge of losing it, I can drop them off for the day. I hired mother’s helpers in the past to go on outings. Ad extra set of hands can make all the difference in the world. Although I do have these options, I still don’t enjoy summer break.
A lot of my friends enjoy the presence of their children. It’s a celebration when school ends for the year and sadness in the final days of summer. It is truly a joyous time for them. As they soak in every second together, I find myself staring at the countdown until the first day of school. I want to be like these moms. I want to live for these fleeting moments. The truth is, it’s not me.
I find it difficult to take these precious moments and thrive in them. It all sounds so terrible. When I speak these words, they tell me more. They tell me I must be doing something wrong. I am failing. I can’t handle my children. I am taking it all for granted. When some moms would give anything to stay at home or have children, how dare I feel this way? Can anyone relate? It’s hard to talk about. You don’t want to sound ungrateful. You don’t want to feel judged.
Here is what I have realized. Through my internal struggles with this, my children have no idea. As far as they are concerned, I’m having just as much fun. When I slip into our big blow up pool, I’m becoming part of their fun by just sitting there. When I take them to the playground and they see me running, I’m having fun. They don’t see me running after their sibling and freaking out. When I say the time aloud, counting down hours until my husband comes home, my number obsessed child is jumping for joy. My feelings do not change how much fun they are having. My favorite childhood memories involve playing with my brother, sister, and friends. Though my parents did fun things with us, I mostly remember the fun that stemmed from my imagination. For all I know, my parents were over it. If so, they hid it well.
If you believe that your countdown to school or lack of excitement makes you a bad mom, look at your children. Are they having fun? Their memories are being created through their play, imagination, and excitement. We are only human. We can only handle so much. And remember, school will start back up in no time. Only one month, twenty-five days, and nineteen hours for us!