When school got out in June, I'll admit that I was not looking forward to summer. I know there are moms out there who can't wait to have all their chicks in the nest, but that is not me. I think it goes back to when we lived in Texas. Houston is always hot, but the months of June, July, and August are absolutely unbearable. We were too poor to cool our house below about 80 degrees, so school got out, and I'd have four little kids at home with me all day, cooped up and red-faced and sweaty, squabbling in their discomfort. When we lived in Houston, I had one objective for the summer-- get the heck out of Houston.
But this summer, getting out of town was not on the radar. Eli was having two surgeries, and with dance camps and swim team and the general ruckus that six create, we had only one summer trip planned. Ed justified this by saying that it was also the first year we had a pool, but the pool just exemplifies my mixed feelings about summer:
I hate worrying that someone will wander into it and drown. It keeps me up at night, and when the cover is off, my brain obsesses over the dang pool.
I hate buying chemicals and feeling like we're being fleeced by our pool guy, who always manages to find something (expensive) wrong with our pump, heater, filter, etc...
I hate sweltering on the pool deck while refereeing the loud arguments that always seem to break out when a bunch of boys start tackling each other in the water.
I love listening to the kids when they're not fighting.
I love watching Rose learn to do somersaults into the pool, Annie do cartwheels, and Maren perfect a back dive.
I love that even when Eli's hand situation seemed intolerable, I could stick some silicone mittens on him, pop him in the pool, and he'd be a happy camper again.
I even love gliding through the water myself, when it's just the right temperature and no one is splashing me.
And just like my feelings about the pool are complicated, my feelings about the whole season are complicated:
I love running in the canyon, and being able to throw on a tank and a pair of shorts (no reflective gear, even!) and dashing out the door.
I hate that I can only run before 9am, or else it's too hot.
In fact, I hate the hot summer days-- anything over 85 is insufferable.
But I love the nights-- there is nothing better than sitting on my front porch, concrete warming my back, watching the sun set over the mountains.
I hate feeling like I am a warden all summer-- enforcing the no-screens during the day rule, getting after people to clean up their messes, and trying to get people to practice, read a book or do anything good for their brains (I used to make them do workbooks every day, and Rose and Eli will be glad their older siblings broke me of that).
I love having the kids home. Now that they're older, they really are delightful to hang out with. It's not having the kids around that makes summer hard for me.
I hate having some of their friends over, but I love it when others come to play.
I hate the fact that no one goes to bed at a decent hour, but I love the more relaxed pace of summer days.
I love going on vacation, but hate the aftermath of laundry and suitcases to put away and kids to get back on a regular sleep schedule (which we're still working on after our trip a month ago).
I love that our family and friends come to visit us, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it too. And I hate when they go back home and we won't see them again for months or years.
This summer, our social worker urged me to make sure that I had some time out of the house. She said I should hire a nanny, just because the intensity of raising my two toddlers could prove to be too much if it were unabated. So I hired my favorite teenage babysitter to come three times a week. On one hand, it was heaven-- I got out to run and didn't have to wake up at the crack of dawn. But there was only one day the entire summer when I didn't have to return sometime during her four-hour stint to drive an older child somewhere.
I hate when the kids are bored. I hate being bored myself. But I've found, especially as we've added Rose and Eli to our family, that the line between bored and overwhelmed is a hair's breath, and I haven't quite figured out how to keep us all from being bored without allowing myself to get overwhelmed.
Fall seems so much less complicated than summer. The kids are back in school, and next week we'll be back to the daily taxi service to and from the junior high, the dance school, the church, and the music lessons. The days will get cooler, and the leaves will change, and pretty soon, I'll be lamenting that I can't send the kids outside to play, and will be eager for summer to come again. And it will.