The desire to write is never far from me. I often think I’d love to type something out, be it to vent, laugh or simply have that creative release that is SO hard to come by when little people reside in your house. However, my creativity, when not suffocated completely, is often stymied by the fact that I should be doing some other piddly task. Raising children, for instance. Instilling values or establishing boundaries or some other nonsense. So my need to write is often overruled by the need to focus on my day job. And night job, I suppose. Insuring I’m not raising sociopaths seems to supersede my blogging, dang it.
This week I had the opportunity to write. I would typically say I had ‘the joy’ of writing but this was a list to create some awareness for my kids….so I’ll simply stick with ‘opportunity.’ Since school has ended, we have worked as a family to create several lists. We have a Summer Bucket List and a Things To Keep Ourselves Busy Without Technology list and a Ways To Stay Active Without Making Mom and Dad Crazy list. Today it became evident that another list, created solely by mom, was needed. And in that list-making, I realized I would seize this ‘opportunity’ to satisfy two needs- the need to write and the need to establish some clear cut summer rules.
Let me start by saying I KNOW I’m the 500th woman to write about summer mom angst. Perhaps just this month. But, by golly, this is my blog and I can be 501 if I wanna. I should also preface this list by saying we’ve had an utterly charmed summer up to this point. Time together to celebrate birthdays and swim. Trips to the zoo and planning for vacation. Sports camps and preparation for a first overnight camp. Overall, it has been wonderful. However, the shine is wearing off a bit as the newness of the break fades. Attitudes are getting a little edgy and everyone is slacking a bit in their general helpfulness. With that being said, it is clearly time for the Things To Be Aware Of This Summer list.
Dear Beloved Offspring,
Our summer got off to a great start. This is the first summer we will be able to fully experience the advantages of Mom working part time. With Dad’s teacher schedule, we have the benefit of having everyone at home several days a week. This has the potential to be amazing. However, that is a lot of family togetherness and brings a certain amount of risk. As we enter our third full week of summer break, I’ve noticed a shift in general demeanor, kindness and helpfulness. Before this becomes a trend, I would like to lay some ground rules for the remaining weeks of summer break that will increase the likelihood we want a repeat of this next summer.
- I am no Lady Gaga. I can throw down some old school 90’s lyrics like nobody’s business. I can sing alongside your church musical like a champ. I can repeat your dance recital choreography in my sleep. But make no mistake…..I am NOT an entertainer. To give further clarification, I am not your summer entertainment. While it is my hope that you will enjoy this summer to the fullest extent, I CANNOT and WILL NOT entertain you. You live in a neighborhood packed with awesome neighbors. There are no less than a dozen backyards, soccer goals and basketball hoops at your disposal. Should those kids not be available for play, your father and I have gifted you with THREE siblings to assist you in tent making, hole digging, swing set playing, tree climbing, dog chasing, soccer ball kicking, basketball shooting and water balloon throwing fun. You’re welcome. I will provide food, air conditioning and transportation to limited activities. We will even be taking a family vacation. But I WILL NOT orchestrate 14 hours of non stop fun for 77 straight days. You’re bored? Well, see #2.
- Beware of ‘Bored.’ Lest the words “I’m bored” leave your lips, I want you to be fully aware of the consequences. While you’re footloose and fancy free until early August, your father and I still have work and coaching responsibilities that will require additional fancy footwork to balance your freedom with our continued enslavement. Errr, work. Should you even feel the ‘I’m’ start to gurgle up in your mouth, please keep the following responses in mind. Because I promise you with every fiber of my being you will be met with one of them in .02 seconds. You can:
- Unload/load the dishwasher. There is a machine that washes our dishes. Simpy use it.
- Feed the dog. You know how you guys like to eat 84 times a day? Well, that dog likes to eat, as well. Except he requires only one dish a day. Let’s appease his easygoing nature and feed him.
- Wipe down the counters. I am positive there is 90 sq ft of sticky surface to keep you busy.
- Put away a handful of the three million toys you’ve left scattered across the upstairs. Any handful. Plastic handful, wooden handful…I don’t care.
- Match socks. There are TWO Rubbermaid totes full of mismatched socks. Match them. Or simply put in mismatched pairs. I. DON’T. CARE. Simply get them into your drawers. Let’s aim for only one huge sock tote by summer’s end.
- Clean up the backyard. We are low on bowls and spoons. I’m confident there are two dozen hidden in the garden and sandbox. Find them.
- Scoop poop. I know you feel this joyous job must be one mom particularly loves or surely you would’ve offered to help before. I assure you, I’m happy to share.
- Wipe down cabinets. There are peanut butter smudges from approximately two inches to three feet off the floor. Pick a spot and start cleaning. When the cabinet resembles a ‘whitish’ color again, move to another spot. Repeat.
- Hang up a wet towel. Any wet towel. Yours. Your brother’s. Your sister’s. You simply pick it up off the floor and hang it up on those horizontal metal bars. They are called towel racks. They are, oddly enough, for towels.
- Clean up under your bed. The last time we did this we found enough books to fill the local library. Add that to the 75 socks that likely match others in that big old Rubbermaid tote. I believe we also uncovered pajamas, old clothes, a toothbrush and every hair bow we’ve searched for in the last six months. It’s like a scavenger hunt. Get hunting.
- Wipe down the toilet. Girls, you get the out on this one. Boys, I’m talking to you. Get an old rag. Or a fire hose. Simply clean on and around the toilet. On second thought, forget the fire hose. Your aim proves that might not be the best idea.
- I still DO NOT CARE what anyone else’s parents are doing. I won’t say this is a hard and fast rule because there are times that popular vote wins out. For instance, knowing that another mom doesn’t shower her kids on days they swim is one rule I feel obligated to abide by. However, the vast majority of the time I don’t care that your buddy has a pan of brownies for breakfast each day. Or that his mom doesn’t care he plays X Box until 2 AM. Or that his parents let him stay home alone all day or her parents let her watch rated R movies. Or that ALL the other moms are letting their kids buy Yeazies. I don’t care. I don’t care for two primary reasons. The first being that I don’t believe for a minute I’m the only mom with set rules and boundaries. However, if we eventually find this not to be the case, I’ll default to the second primary reason I don’t care. Which is simply that I never intended to be like any other mom. Because you guys aren’t like any other kids. Nor are they like you. We’ve all been created in unique and unusual ways and rules will differ. Even within the same family. This is why I don’t want you to judge me when I eat the entire pan of brownies for breakfast. Different kid. Different rules. And it’s my summer, too.
All this being said, I want you to look back on this summer as one of pure fun littered with reckless abandon. Laughing until you cry and playing until you collapse. I want you to forge friendships at camp. I want you to strengthen your bond with your siblings. I want you to fall asleep on my shoulder when we stay up way too late watching Trolls for the tenth time. Ok, twentieth. I want you to catch every lightning bug in the yard only to watch in awe as it takes off in flight from your sweet little fingertips. I want you to eat too much ice cream, swim until you’re pruned, get blisters on your hands from climbing the big tree in the backyard. I want you to be sticky from popsicles and shiny from sunscreen. I want to watch as your freckles emerge and your hair lightens from your fun in the sun. I want you to have a dozen sleepovers with your cousins. I want you to find the best spot in the backyard to dig up worms and then I want you to get stinky from hours of fishing. I want you to spend precious time hanging with your grandparents. I want you to sleep in late and stay up even later. I want you to run and get dirty. I want you to get lost in Little House in the Big Woods and Harry Potter. I want you to know that Dad still does the best cannonball in the entire family and mom loves hosting a good neighborhood movie night. I want you to experience summer in its purest form.
Simply remember my three rules and we’ll all make it until that big yellow bus arrives to carry your precious sun kissed faces to school.