The “perfect” Summer: Vision vs. Reality
I have a confession to make. I’ve been self-sabotaging my summers. You see, I’m a dreamer, and summers in particular aren’t immune to the grandiose visions in my head. It always starts out as this magical idea of a summer packed full of fun and wonder. And every year, without fail, it ends in crushed “fun-mom” dreams, bucket lists with lots of things left undone, and so. much. whining.
I’m totally blaming it on that viral “you only get 18 summers with your kids” article on some lady’s blog from a few summers ago. I remember finishing reading that article, in a full on, ugly-cry, 1 sleeve deep in oreos. I think I was mourning the fact that I had clearly already missed 1/3 of my oldest kid’s ‘magical summers’. I was hit with a fear that if I didn’t get my crap together and flip on my Mary Poppins button my kids would be 18, out of the house, and left only with memories of lame summers they had to suffer through with their boring mom. So
we I started making these insane summer bucket lists with things that are way outside my skill sets and giftings. Things like lemonade stands and science experiments and taking 3 small kids to a waterpark by myself. All in the name of giving my kids the best memories EVER.
What they got was more like a few fun memories squeezed in between a lot of frustrated, grumpy, mom who-was-in-over-her-head memories. Here are actual things that resulted from a few of last summer’s gems of attempted fun:
Vision: Let’s go get ice cream sundaes! Reality: Youngest spends entire time picking up random toppings off the ground and trying to eat them. Middle kids cries because he realizes he wants whatever toppings little sister has, then after finally calming down, cries because his ice cream is now melted. Oldest eats too fast, claims she’s dying for the next hour and a half.
Vision: Let’s have a picnic at the park! Reality: Mom spends 45 minutes cutting out fun shaped fruit and meat and cheese slices, 2 of the 3 kids decide they want to be vegan, fruit haters this week, middle kid has to go potty 2 minutes after we arrive and refuses to use the park restrooms, and the littlest kid keeps trying to chase birds into a drainage ditch.
Vision: Let’s go to the waterpark! Reality: We never made it. The thought of paying $100 to drag my 3 kids 5 and under to a place with hundreds of other people by myself so we can sit in 105 degrees and rotate between hanging out in a pool of pee water and taking my own three to the potty every 20 min gave me an actual panic attack. (I would have counted this as a success except that my budding reader kept reminding me that the waterpark wasn’t checked of the list the entire summer.)
Vision: Let’s have a fun day making crafts! Reality: Little paints on the table, and middle kid’s craft…and big kid’s craft. Middle kid freaks out because he got paint on his finger. Little eats glitter while mom washes middle kid’s hand. Oldest kid encourages little to continue sampling various craft supplies. Mom gets mad and sends everyone to their rooms while she cleans up mess.
The reality is that that with my kids at least, they often notice my mood more that they notice whatever elaborate ‘fun’ thing we’re doing. This summer I’m intentionally trying to remember that our days don’t have to be filled with my idea of wonder and magic. We can make a cushion fort in the living room while dinner is in the oven and the excitement level is just as high as if I were to take them to the splash pad. Sure we have a summer bucket list, but it’s small -and for every big fun thing listed, there are 3 little things that really only require me being present with them.
In case you were wondering: We’re giving the waterpark a second chance this year but with 2 differences. My husband has to come with us and I’m going with the mindset that if we get there and everyone is over it after an hour, then we leave having had fun for an hour instead of being mad that we “wasted money for an hour.”
What little things are you doing with your kids this summer that your kids love?