Holy crap. It’s already August. Where is the summer going? What have we done these past two months? What do we have to show for it? Can you hear the anxiety dripping from my fingertips onto the keyboard?
Summer is so fun. Summer is also a lot of work. One morning I was huffing and puffing my way to AJR’s swimming lesson determined to just barely make it on time. I turned to my friend and said “Do you think there will ever be a time when we’re not frazzled?” The answer came fast and decisive – and it was a big fat “no”. There goes my hope, dashed there on the steps of our community pool.
This summer has been filled with picture perfect moments that capture the quintessential summer vacation experience. My camera roll is filled with hundreds of them. Literally. But behind every single perfect picture moment is a bedraggled mom that has had to bust her ass to make it happen.
Moments like this one. Because because what is cuter and more summer-riffic than little kids eating an ice cream cone?
The reality is that I snapped this photo before the dairy carnage began. Our sweet family outing was spent trying to triage various toddler emergencies. Emergency #1: the Dairy Queen we went to is situated on a busy road and the only seating is within a busy parking lot so we had to spend the entire time trying to keep excitable kids from being struck by passing cars since we’re sort of fond of them. Emergency #2: The ice cream had the audacity to DRIP ON THEIR HANDS, which threw them into such a state of shrieking panic that I vowed in that moment never to get them cones again until they were 16 years old. My husband took one for the team and this happened:
Joe sat stoically, holding the melting ice cream cone with the tragically heroic composure of an honorable captain going down with the ship. I sat on the opposite end of the bench taking frantic licks of Olivia’s ice cream cone as she yelled “MINES!” and tried to slap me for creeping on her dessert. We were all sticky and breathless once the outing had ended.
Or this image. Taken at the park one Saturday morning. My heart melts when I saw Olivia looking adoringly at her big brother:
What this picture doesn’t depict is the sweat that trickled down the sad, sad remnants of my once glorious cleavage as I balanced a diaper bag on one arm and the leash of a dachshund in the other. We had a showing for our house and Joe was away from work, so that meant I had to get the house HGTV-show ready by myself. Already exhausted I then entertain the kids and dog as well as keep them alive. Are we having fun yet?
Frazzled is my new state of being. I’m convinced that my face must be contorted in a permanent harried expression. This summer there is so much to do and so much preparation to do it. My days have been filled with the constant packing and repacking of the bags. There are so many damn bags! The pool bag. The gym bag. The diaper bag. The lunch bag. Bags for days! All stuffed with various changes of clothes, snacks, sunscreen, and a flask. Totally kidding about that last part. My bag packing usually happens roughly 20 minutes before we need to be someplace while the children cling to my legs and whine about why we aren’t leaving this very instant. That or they decide its time to strip off the clothes I put on them minutes ago, thus delaying our departure even more.
This is why I am always scrambling to get places. When it comes to time, I either have two hours until we’re supposed to be somewhere or two minutes. There is no in between. I feel like I’m bursting into the gym, the pool, park, and playdates with the grace of Seinfeld’s Kramer opening Jerry’s door. I made it. I’m already exhausted, but I am here.
We rush to get out the door to our destination where I spend anywhere from 1-3 hours chasing two children and averaging three panic attacks when I can’t locate one of them for an agonizing 30 seconds. I start more conversations than I finish with adults. This makes me feel more scatterbrained and frazzled because I yearn for that adult contact. One can only debate the merits of specific Hot Wheels cars for so long. In between trying to keep both children in my line of vision, I catch passing snippets of a larger conversation. By the time I actually sit down to hear it in its entirety, it’s two weeks later and no longer carries any relevance. I rarely sit. Those moments when my butt graces a chair or I actually look at the person I’m talking to are few and far between. When I do let my guard down there have been slips, falls, and temporary disappearances that have made me realize that the summer is not a time for a mom to relax, it is a time for a mom to always be watching.
Departure is usually when I am at my most frazzled. Call it the heat, call it the sugar crash from the ice cream they had an hour before, but my kids go violently from playing happily to we need to leave this place immediately. Then it becomes a race against their tantrums to pack up all of our crap and get them into the car where their screams are somewhat muffled. A car that has been sitting out in 90 degrees while both kids fight against their carseats because I’ve basically shoved them into the equivalent of a 400 degree oven. At home it’s time for me to whip up lunch or dinner, force the sun-kissed kiddos to eat it, dole out baths, put kids to sleep, and then go back to the bag of the day that was thrown to the floor so I can wash bathing suits, towels, clean out snacks, etc.
The only thing that’s come easily this summer is my tan, which I’m so grateful for because it’s helped to conceal my ever deepening under-eye circles. I would probably be less frazzled if we did less things. I continue to see articles that scold me about letting my children be bored. But have they spent more a morning with my son who asks “but what are we doing to DO today?” no less than a thousand times after I tell him that we are going to spend a precious few hours at home. Even staying at home means that all of the toys and things must come out. That includes the sand in the sandbox. We’ve burned through four bags of sand so far this summer because it’s simply a crime in the toddler world to leave it in the box. We are people that need to get out.
All that said, yesterday it rained all afternoon. I wasn’t even mad. I was grateful. We spent the afternoon watching Finding Nemo while we ate snacks and I gave zero Fs about screentime. We were so lazy. And you know what? It was absolutely glorious. I will probably always be that frazzled mom, sweating in her high-rise jeans as I run with the kids to various activities. However, I’m starting to think a day of “nothing” (or at least an afternoon of nothing – let’s not get crazy here) is something we all desperately need now and then.