The kids are back in school and I am, for the second year in a row, happy to see them go. My youngest started kindergarten and I wish she and her teachers a wonderful school year. Godspeed to my new college freshman and to my high schooler, new middle schooler and elementary kid. Good luck to all of you because I need to take the next nine months to sleep.
For the second summer in a row, I’ve barely made it to September. I exercised regularly, got to my yoga classes and got a decent amount of sleep most nights. I also made sure to spend time out of the house in the evening once my husband was home from work. Turns out, all of the self-care in the world cannot negate the everyday stresses of a full house of kids. I was grumpy and generally irritated by my ungrateful brood and their lack of self-care and three meals-a-day requirement.
Physical exhaustion is one thing, but this summer it seemed that my mental exhaustion was at all time high (or maybe low?). And because I often felt overwhelmed, I never had a chance to form a complete thought, let alone plan a day of fun. And so, while other families had day trips, picnics, and trips to the water park my kids were mostly expected to entertain themselves and just go to the pool. And the longer we went without a “day of fun” the longer I got down on myself for being such a loser parent.
Endless spiral: tired and cranky – no energy to plan a fun day – no fun day, more cranky. And…. repeat.
The last few weeks of August I held on by my fingernails. And now that it’s over, I have guilt and regret.
What DID I expect from this past summer? Now that fall is here and I have a chance to
sleep all day while the kids are at school reflect, I’m not sure what I would do differently. Did I WANT, “extra fun?” Not really. For me, summer goals are very simple: Less is better. Less schedule, less activities, less running around. Less yelling at my kids to hurry up and get in the car because we have to get to X, Y and Z.
I guess, maybe, this summer I felt like we could have done a tiny bit more. Maybe I slacked off just a bit. And maybe, just maybe, this is more about the pressure I put on myself as a parent.
Not that we didn’t do ANYTHING fun. We went to the Brewers game for my birthday and went up North for a week with my extended family.
And, as I scroll through my phone from pictures I took this summer, we did more than I thought we did.
The question I need to ask myself is, can I be okay with a few of really fun/awesome days with most being ordinary? Isn’t that life in general? Why put those expectations on myself every summer? Is having “fun” planned more days the key to having a great summer? Maybe I need to radically adjust my expectations as a parent of a brood of many and a parent of a child with special needs. And, maybe I need to stop worrying about what other families are doing and focus on what works for us.
I do often forget that I have a child with Ds. She’s just my daughter. And yet, she will always need more care and more eyes watching her. Taking her on outings takes more planning ahead and vigilance when we are not home (she’s a runner). She will always have therapy and medical appointments (yes, even in the summer). Maybe I need to be kinder to myself and be content with being good enough. Having a kid with special needs has changed our life and maybe, summer easy breezy plans are unrealistic.
And maybe, that’s not such a bad thing.