Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer begins... now

Psalm 148:12-13 (NIV)

Young men and women,
   old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for his name alone is exalted;
   his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
School’s out for summer. Jack is officially done with second grade, which means he has one more year left in his elementary building. Max finished preschool a few weeks ago. All of next week is free, then the older boys have a week of Vacation Bible School. After that is six weeks of Summer Wonders, which is a program of Jack’s school district where he gets to take three fun classes Monday through Thursday mornings — it’s probably his favorite six weeks of the year.

And though it barely got to 60 degrees today, it’s also time for us to start hitting up the village pool two or three nights a week. We’ll be using the charcoal grill far more often than the oven. The kids will be forced outside every day it isn’t raining, which means it’s time for me to hope our plants survive Max and hope our stain remover can handle another year of heavy-duty laundry.

Unlike last year, we now have three boys who can walk and express strong opinions about where they want to go and what they want to do. Charlie’s not toilet trained or fully weaned, but he certainly seems a lot more portable at the start of June 2011. There’s a big difference between being 4 months and 16 months old. It’s an obvious statement, but it’s still remarkable how different life feels now compared to then.

The first year we were married, when Kristie’s first year of teaching ended and yet I still had to keep working 50 hours a week, I realized there’s no such thing as summer vacation for most of the working world. But as Jack got older, my stance evolved. Especially over the last two years as I became responsible for picking out his clothes, making his lunch and getting him on the bus each day, I started to realize the way my routine gets a welcome break when school is not in session.

Of course, I’m not the one who stays home with three rambunctious boys. And when we don’t have five school nights each week, Kristie and I aren’t the best at sticking to regular bedtime routines, which probably is not the best strategy. Hopefully we’ll learn from years past and commit to common sense solutions for a smoother summer — always having lots of food on hand for our picky eaters, insisting on regular baths and tooth brushing, not relying on the television to provide entertainment, actually sticking with the library’s summer reading program.

Part of the solution is simple attitude. If I look at summer as a burden, it will become one far more quickly than if I consider it an opportunity. If I remember how much fun it is to ignore the chores and play baseball in the yard for an hour, well, I guess I’ll stay up late washing dishes or folding laundry that night. But if it makes the kids happy and helps get them to bed with a smile on their face, then clearly it was worth the effort.

All that said, I’m still not the one tasked with riding herd over our little blessings eight or nine hours a day all summer long. I give Kristie all the credit in the world for her ability to be a full-time mom. Sure, she gets pushed to the breaking point every so often — we all do. But not only does she know how to handle those situations (way better than I do), she also does a better job of preventing them in the first place, as well as recovering from the one or two that are simply unavoidable. She gives second, third and fourth chances to activities I’m not bold enough to try once. She wakes up each morning with a legitimate clean slate. I doubt the kids fully appreciate how patient their mother truly is; hopefully one day they will.

I am going to try very hard this summer to improve my perspective. We talk often about how we feel the whole family is at the perfect spot — the enigmatic grade-schooler, the precocious preschooler, the ascendant toddler. We’re in our early 30s, in great health and remarkable stamina considering how little sleep the children allow. If we could freeze in this phase like an animated sitcom family that never ages, well, that offer might be too appealing to reject.

So if we really are in the midst of a great time in our family life, I may as well dive in headfirst. Clearly I realize we can’t stay here forever (nor would I truly want to), but I do have the power to give myself fully to the family so when we’re far removed form the summer of 2012, we are able to look back on it as fondly as we do standing at its inception. I plan to own up to how much of this rests on my ability to approach it with the proper attitude, and I know I have to rely on God to help be do so.

School’s out, summer’s on. Time to make the most of it.

A prayer for June 1:

Lord, I thank you for another year of school. For the teachers and staff who work so closely with our children, for the bus drivers who get them to and from school safely, for the other students who interact with our kids, and who have their own families and concerns. I thank you also for the gift of summer, the chance to spend extra time with the family and to more deeply enjoy the world outside. Please help us adjust our routines and adhere to the new, and keep us safe and refreshed for when August rolls around. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Living fully in the present moment . . . it's what God intended for us!