This summer kicked ass. Not like…”Dude, this summer was so kick ass.” More like…”Wow. This summer really kicked me in the ass.” If I were returning to school tomorrow and had to write the 80’s classic “What I did on my summer vacation” essay, it could be easily summed up with eight simple words:
I spent my summer vacation in my car.
In this particular season of parenting, with a 15, 12 and 7 year old, our family finds itself wanting to go in 5 different directions and apparently four of us expect I’m going to drive everyone to and from. I was just not home very much this summer and when I was, it was for a 92 minute interval to drop off groceries, drop off a kid, drop off the dog, start a load of laundry and pick up the next round of riders to get them off to their next marvelous event. I’m like an über cab that also provides you with petty cash and a ‘making good choices’ lecture. Summer was full. Very, very full. (I loathe people who say they are busy. Who isn’t busy? So I try to say full to convey gratitude, weight and still troll for sympathy)
In the best moments of the summer, I really felt like my kids were able to experience things that they will remember for a lifetime. The school year is such a grind and I really want their summers to be for exploration and recreation and rest and earning some money (when possible). We spent an unbelievable amount of money on camps this summer between all 3 kids. I do know the exact amount but I’m not going to publish it. I’m neither proud nor do I want it carefully documented. The actual cost needs to fade from memory because it was a necessary evil. It meant they could try things without a giant time and/or financial commitment during the school year and see their friends and try something different and get out of each others hair (this is critical to my summer survival). There was sailing camp (1 week Pram, 1 week Hartley rec, 2 weeks Opti learn to race!), scouts camp, dance camp (twice), vacation bible school, basketball camp, ninja warrior camp (no-I’m not kidding), YMCA day camp and old school church camp (which my son rated an 11 out of 10). There was some serious fun that was had.
In the worst moments of the summer, I felt like I was running a tiny Make-A-Wish chapter in my own family, yet none of the participants were terminally ill and they all had complaints to file.
Summer as always is far too short and fleeting so I am going to choose to remember the good and forget the rest. This is what I am choosing to remember about the summer of 2016.
This is the summer my two eldest children passed me up in height. I went from the second tallest to the second shortest in our house just in the last 10 weeks.
This is the summer that each of the big kids took the little one on bike rides and walks with “NO parents”. He found this quite adventurous.
This is the summer I read The Boxcar Children and Pippi Longstocking to the youngest and he loved them as much as I wanted him to love them.
This is the summer that it was both a royal pain in the butt to drive my daughter and her cadre of friends everywhere and it was special because I know next summer she will be driving herself and I will miss her even more.
This is the summer that my older son and his friends biked (so adorable…shhhhh…) with fishing rods and bait in tow to fish under the bridge, off the dock, at the beach.
This is the summer that I sat on the front step with my daughter until nearly midnight talking about all of the important things while the only other sound was the cacophony of frogs.
This is the summer that it rained so much that we grew accidental large strange powdery mushrooms in the backyard and my husband spent hours (days really) trying to eradicate the local vole population.
This is the summer the 7 year old requested that his stuffed animal Bunsers come and watch him play soccer.
This is the summer that my two eldest starting getting along better. Neither of them take things as personally anymore. They had some really nice moments that I witnessed. Some inside jokes. Some genuine give and take ‘asking for your opinion’ exchanges. Some bonding over music. It was like watching 2 caterpillars morph into 2 butterflies. Butterflies that get along. It was strangely breathtaking.
This is the summer that we went to Madeline Island for the very first time and the little one went on a paddleboard by himself for the very first time. Also-I can’t explain his biceps in this photo. I guess if you run everywhere and you have 0 percent body fat you are blessed with those.
This is the summer that my 12 year old turned to me and said, “You are a pretty baller mom.” I’m quite flattered.
This is the summer that our 9 year old goldfish died, the front porch got redone, we had 3 monarch butterflies in the front garden, we were out on the lake frequently, the kids lost one fishing rod and broke another, our next door neighbor got 2 tiny daschund puppies, the boys obsessed over Pokémon go, we put up the new tree swing, Grandma moved just 3 miles away, we spent 8 hours in a row at the beach several times, my daughter and I did yoga on stand up paddle boards, I baked pies and sourdough bread, the youngest wore a swimsuit sans underwear to church, we went to 2 wedding receptions, we played cards and Ticket to Ride together, we went on bike rides, we drove long distances to try new doughnuts, we took naps in the middle of the day.
My 3 kids are not so little anymore. It seems that each day is packed with activity without many long pauses…This is the new normal and I’m not entirely sure I like it all the time but I think they would say it was a very good summer. And if the summer I envisioned had more long walks, quiet contemplation and unplanned stretches of time…
My summer starts tomorrow.