Last month, Cheryl Tevis wrote a column advising moms of young kids to enjoy the chaos while it lasts. With one daughter graduating from college, and the other about to get married, Cheryl found herself sentimental for the old days when her life revolved around their activities.
Jake is 12, Luke is 10, and Will is 8, so I know about chaos. I am lucky enough to be able to work part-time from home, so I get to be with them all summer. All day. All day when we're picking mulberries for our pancakes and spending leisurely afternoons swimming. All day when we're going to baseball games, and taking day trips to explore our beautiful state (like our visit to the "American Gothic" house, above). And, yes, all day when they're fighting like cats and dogs and I can't get anything done because I'm forced to be a referee.
It just so happens that today is one of those referee days. Last weekend, my youngest and middle sons finished baseball season, so for the first time all summer, we actually have a fairly open calendar. I decided not to schedule anything for the rest of the summer, aside from Scout camp for Jake and Luke, and church camp for Will. Our plan is not to have a plan. To just see where the day takes us.
Last summer, I wrote a column, "Summertime: Freedom and Responsibility," where I outlined our summer. The boys had chores to do. They read, they wrote, they practiced new skills, and they did some kind of physical activity. It seemed like a genius plan. I sounded like I really knew what I was talking about. So why isn't it working this summer?
For some reason, I'm having a harder time getting the ball rolling this year. We were all so exhausted after baseball season, that I felt like we needed some "do nothing" time. But that quickly escalated to, "He's being a jerk!" and "Tell him to leave me alone!" During the time I'm supposed to be working, and they're supposed to be doing chores and reading, etc., I'm suddenly settling arguments and sending kids to their room.
Maybe I just need to be better organized and write down the things they need to do every day. I don't want to micro-manage them to death, but when I come downstairs from working for 3 hours, and the living room looks like a Lego bomb went off in it, I get a little cranky. They are good boys, and they do what I tell them. I just wish I didn't have to tell them every single step of every single thing I need them to do. It's time for them to become a little more self-reliant.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I love my boys more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone. They're my life. And I know how incredibly lucky I am to get to be with them every day. There are plenty of moms who would give anything for that chance. I know that someday, when they are grown, I'll wish I had Legos in my living room. I'll wish I could hear their raucous laughter echoing through the house. I'll wish I had to drive them five different places in a day.
I'm trying to remember that. Trying to keep it all in mind while I feel like I'm drowning in a messy house, and struggling to get things done. It helps to read Cheryl's column, and to talk to moms who have been there and done that. I see the old ladies smile at me and my boys when they see us having fun together. I know what they're thinking. "Enjoy it now, because it'll be gone too soon."
Yes, my kids have been at each other today, and my work time has been interrupted more times than I can count. But I look at their sweet faces, and I know that as much as I might wish I had just a day to myself, I really wouldn't have it any other way.