Sunday, August 20, 2017

What I learned on my Summer Vacation

Bless Them.
And Keep Them.
Let your face shine upon Them.
And give Them peace.

That was the prayer I whispered over my kids tonight.

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We are in the second week of school and I don't even know how that happened. I kept meaning to sit down and write my "end of summer" or "beginning of August" post and then all this stuff happened. And by stuff I mean School Supply lists, School Clothes Shopping, Meet the teacher days, Get your schedule day, New backpacks, New lunch boxes, New bedtimes. And that was all before the first day.

Then came all the first day hoopla with the obligatory photoshoots with the hand made "First Day of ...." signs (sounds fancy, but by handmade I mean Sharpee on a piece of white paper), and the making of the lunches, the ironing of the uniforms, the Middle School fashion decisions (Lord, be near to us all), the 3 car pools, and the parent curriculum nights. The first few weeks of school is a marathon AND a sprint. At least the way the Summys do it.

So now that I have had a chance to sit and breathe, I am going to officially close out summer with my thoughts on Summer 2017. It was interesting. That's for sure.

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This summer was not what I expected. I had very high expectations for this to be an easy breezy summer with independent children. I even wrote about it here. But clearly, I jinxed myself. (because Jinxing is real. Ask my 7 year old.)

We had a strong start. A trip to the mountains with family followed by church camp for the older 2 kids. That is when we experience the first summer hiccup. I wrote about that stellar parenting moment here. After camps and tick removal we moved seamlessly into swim lessons and more camps. What was I thinking planning major events for every week of the summer?. I should have scheduled more down time. That sentence just sounds idiotic, scheduling down time, but now I know that the only way to experience the Lazy Days of Summer is to block it out on the calendar. Sigh.

Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. Y'all, God was just showing off that day.

The first half of the 2 weeks of swim lessons was tough for the littlest Summy and was made even tougher by the fact that Mom and Dad took a quick weekend trip to Colorado right in the middle. Turns out kids don't love juggling tight schedules that make quick weekend trips possible. You would think after 11 years of parenting we would know this. You would think, but you would be wrong. We are slow learners. Thankfully, she rallied for the 2nd half of swim lessons and even managed to completely go underwater a few times which I count as a major success.

Big sis giving Little sis a pep talk before swim lessons. The are precious.

There was no time celebrate swimming successes or to rest because the next week was Amelia's legit summer camp experience. We have done church camp for years, but this was her first time to go away on her own without any friends or family, you know, Parent Trap style. After all the obsessive packing and planning she was on her way and Ill admit it felt a bit like sending her off to college. There were many tears shed by one of us (me) followed by comforting hugs and reassuring words from the other (her). I was clearly worried about her for nothing. She had a great week and can't wait to go back next year.

Moments before I left her and cried all the way home.
True story, I actually said "I forgot to tell her to drink water!
What if she forgets to drink water?!?" I was clearly unstable.

I spent so much time obsessing over all of the camp hoopla that I almost completely forgot what else was going on that week. Walt was starting basketball day camp and he was genuinely excited about it. It would be easy and fun and just 5 hours a day. Imagine my surprise when I dropped him off on Monday morning and he fell apart at check in. "I don't know anyone here!" "What if I'm the worst one here." "Who will I eat lunch with?" I had been so caught up with preparing Amelia for what I thought would be this huge step of independence, I forgot to prepare him for the "what ifs" of simply trying something new. 

It was around this time that we started noticing Walt's anxiety kicking up a little bit at bedtime. Worrying that he wouldn't be able to fall asleep was exactly the thing that was keeping him up at night. He was up half the night worrying and then exhausted and grumpy the next day from lack of sleep. And honestly....I was grumpy too. It was like living with a newborn again. Constantly whispering and tiptoeing worrying we would wake him after he FINALLY fell asleep.

Nope. Nope. Nope. I enjoy my sleep too much for this business! We needed to find a quick fix for this situation, like yesterday. So I filled my brain with articles and blog posts on sleep anxiety in children and asked for advice from my mom friends. We tried sleepovers in the girls' room, extra long baths, extended reading time, and taking away screen time before bed to help him relax. They were helpful suggestions that worked some of the time, but I wanted a more permanent, fool proof solution. (Because there are always super quick, fool proof solutions when it comes to kids. Again, you would think we would know this by now. Seriously, really slow learners, here.)

To add insult to injury, our "relaxing night routine" was kind of sidelined due to the Great Lice Invasion of 2017. The house was completely turned upside for 2 weeks and this mom was extremely on edge about cleanliness. In retrospect I should have taken a chill pill for the sake of my innocent children, but you know what they say about hindsight and all. As you might expect all of this disruption only made Walt's anxiety worse and now there is the added element of trying to stay really really clean.

So if you are keeping score you realize that I have now given my kid sleep anxiety with a side of OCD. So basically I'll be expecting my Mom Of The Year certificate in the mail any day now.

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Why did I just tell that whole long and drawn out story? Because as I sat in that chair in the dark of Walt's bedroom waiting for him to fall asleep (which seems to be the successful solution to his falling asleep anxiety... well, that and a little nip of Melatonin), I started to cry and then pray and then cry out in prayer.

"God, these are the times when I need you to be their peace. To be their comfort. Because as much as I want to be their everything, there are somethings I just can't do. You are the only true source of peace and comfort. You are their shelter and their strength."

You guys, this parenting job is a burden sometimes. But, thankfully, God promises that if we cast all our cares upon Him he will sustain us. He will carry the burdens of our heart. What a relief as I sit here burdened for my children. Worried about their fears and safety and security. God knew I would feel this way, in fact, He designed that way. That are hearts would break with love for our children just as His heart breaks for us.

And in Galatians 6 God speaks through Paul and says, See how I am taking this burden from you? Now go and do this for someone else. And in doing this you will be fulfilling Christ's law which is basically your one job. (paraphrased...obviously).  God's word tells us that because He has lightened our load we should do the same for others. Because He has taken my heavy load from me, I can turn and take on the worries and burdens of my kids, my husband, and my friends. (how many ways can I say that sentence before I get my own point?) It's not easy work, but it's what we are called to do. Bearing one another's burdens it's supposed to be hard. Burdens are heavy by definition. No one should have to carry them alone.

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I'm happy to report that since the beginning of school, Walt's anxiety has decreased. It could be because he is exhausted every afternoon (Bless you dear 2nd grade teachers), or it could just be because he feels comfortable knowing that I'll be sitting here every night. Or maybe its the Melatonin. If so, I'm buying stock in that stuff.

Whatever the reason, here I sit. Again. In the dark. On a different night. Praying God's peace over my son. And scrolling through Instagram... because I'm only human and it takes this boy forever to fall asleep.

Lord,
Bless Them.
And Keep Them.
Let your face shine upon Them.
And give Them peace.



FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
August 2016
Kerri Walsh Jennings and I are the same age and we both have had 3 kids. It's basically like looking in a mirror. #Olympics2016




Thursday, August 3, 2017

THAT mom is usually related to THOSE children

I am in the middle about writing a very introspective, thoughtful post about everything I am learning from this summer that proved way more difficult than I expected. (See my plans for the best summer eva here.) But I am taking a minute to jot down something that I noticed today and didn't want to forget.

This is what my kids do at the pool. 


It's no secret that earlier in the year I discovered a love for podcasts. Podcasts by women for women about regular life are my jam. And if you can throw in some spirituality and a lesson from God while still making me laugh, well then I am your #1 fan.

Earlier in the summer I was listening to such a podcast (I can't remember exactly which one because I binge them all... If it comes to me I will most definitely come back and site the reference.) (This is possibly why I received a failing grade for almost every research paper I wrote in college.) Anyway, the ladies on the podcast were discussing some of the most annoying things of summer and mentioned those obnoxious kids who glob on to your family at the pool. They were speaking specifically about those who just show up for snack time, but I was thinking "YES. I don't like those kids that just pick a family to hang out with and never go back to their mom. And their mom is super relieved to get a break never seems to try to find them. Ugh.... how annoying are they?!?!?" (said in the most holier than thou voice.)

Maybe you see where this is going.

Well today while watching my kids play at the pool while sitting under the umbrella and listening to (you guessed it) a podcast, I realized something. Louisa is one of those obnoxious kids. She is totally happy putting around the pool and going up to kids who have a doting parent or grandparent with them and just strikes up a conversation. Clearly she got this skill from her father. As I mentioned, my preferred posture at the pool is sunglasses on, hat down, ear buds in, and a sign that says "don't even think of coming to talk to me". Well, just kidding about the sign... maybe.

I watcher her today go up to several families (like usual) and show them all of her swimming tricks like blowing bubbles, putting her face in the water, and super splashy kicks, but then I noticed this one grandfather move to the deep end of the pool with his kids.

"Huh? that's weird" I thought. But maybe he is wanting to work on their swimming technique and needed more room. Then, as Louisa started putting that direction to chat, I noticed he quickly moved his crew to the opposite side of the pool. He was clearly trying to get way from her.  She was one of those kids to him.

Ooops. I didn't see that coming. I thought those children were the one with dead beat, neglectful parents. Wait. Am I a dead beat mom. Is it true? Am I okay with it? So many questions for an afternoon at the pool.


/ / / / /


Several weeks ago I was sitting at the pool watching the kids swim and noticed another mom swimming with her kids. She and her 2 preschool age kids were playing right in front of me where Louisa was just doing her thing. This young mother was very hands-on. And super encouraging... no really, like seriously encouraging. "You are so great at kicking in the water!" "Way to blow bubbles!" "You are so brave!" "I love spending time at the pool with you guys!"

I immediately felt the mom guilt well up inside me. "I should be playing with my kids. She's a better mom than I am because she actually enjoys splashing with her 3 year old. Why can't I find so much joy in watching my toddler blow bubbles in the water?" 

About that time I noticed Louisa joining in this family's love fest. She is never one to turn down some good old fashion praise and adoration, even from complete strangers.

"Look at how high I can splash when I kick!" "I can put my whole face in the water! Watch me!" The Super Mom looked up at me and then looked back at Lou and said "YOU ARE amazing! Thats the best splash I have ever seen! Look boys, isn't she great at splashing!" And then looked back at me with as if to say... "I guess I will just show your kid the affection she needs since you obviously can't be bothered to mother well." (To be fair. She didn't say these things out loud. But I can totally read minds and well... I'm 99% sure that is what she was thinking.)

She was mom-shaming me right there in the shallow end of the pool.

I couldn't believe it. I wanted to jump in and defend myself and tell her how even when I am in the pool Lou swims up to strangers to show off and how I am a super mom. That I limit screen time (well unless it's summer. or unless Sesame Street is on, because it's educational. or unless I'm trying to cook dinner and... well never mind) and that limit sweets and make homemade dinners and read bedtime stories and....

Instead, I sat there looked her in the eyes and tipped my visor to her. I will not be shamed into mommy competition. I will never win at that game. The truth is... by her standards I am a dead beat. And I think I'm totally cool with that. My kids are happy and safe and have learned to play by themselves (most of the time). Even my mom, the Mother Theresa of moms, didn't chase us around the country club pool cheering on our doggy paddling skills. I never once felt neglected.

So yeah... I am THAT mom and Louisa is one of THOSE kids. And neither of us are looking to change. I'm not sure we could even if we tried. But look at this face. Don't you want to see her stick her whole face in the water? It really is a fantastic skill.




FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
June 2014
I did not enjoy the snarky tone the Wii Fit took with me as it informed me I was overweight and my "wii fit age" is actually 64. What?!? Shut up you stupid Nintendo.