Let’s get real about this summer. For me? It’s been a huge struggle. I feel like I’ve been fighting an internal battle every single day that leaves me oh so exhausted. Not to mention the actual battles I’ve been having with my kids on a daily basis. I’m weary, I’m discouraged, and I feel like no matter where I focus my attention I am in turn monumentally failing at something else. Balance is the impossible goal.
Let me give you a few examples of how about a thousand conversations a day go with my kids.
Caden: Can I play video games?
Me: Not right this minute.
(a minute later)
Caden: It’s a new minute! Can I play video games?
Shepard: Get off me, Caden!
Me: CADEN GET OFF OF SHEPARD RIGHT NOW!
(Caden is above Shepard’s body on the couch, balancing his arms and legs around Shepard’s body, without actually touching him.
Caden: I’m not on him! SEE?! I’m not on him!
(Caden gets squirrely and bored and starts picking on Annie or Shepard.)
Me: Caden, keeps your hands to yourself!
(Starts using his head or legs to constantly touch Annie or Shepard.)
Caden: I’m not touching him/her! See! My hands are to myself!
Shepard: What can I dooooooooo?
Me: Go find something to play with.
Shepard: Video games are something to play with, so I’m playing video games.
Me: No. Find something else.
Shepard: No! You said play with something, so I’m playing video games.
Shepard: I’m so hungrrrrrryyyyyyy. What can I eat?
Me: Yogurt, carrots, peapods, peaches, apples.
Shepard: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I’m HUNGRY!!! What can I EAT?!?!
I am not joking, these types of conversations happen with EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION I have with my kids during the day. All day, every day. They live to look for loopholes in everything I say. I just want to shove my head under a pillow and hide. It’s completely exasperating! And they think it’s hilarious.
For some reason this summer has been so different from last. Maybe the novelty of having a house and neighbors to play with has worn off. There have definitely been a lot less kids around than last year. Last summer the boys spent all day every day outside with friends. This year it’s happened maybe once or twice? Caden’s best friend who lives on the same block as us hasn’t even come over a single time since we got Annie in March. Caden’s gone to his house once. What is going on? And getting them to play outside on their own is nearly impossible. It’s been a very hot summer and I get not really wanting to hang out in the blasting heat. But they can’t seem to find things to do inside on their own either. Like ever. If they’re not outright asking for video games, they are asking me what they can do. Over and over and over and over again. It’s making me INSANE. Stop making me micromanage your life! I have enough going on in my own head. It’s so incredibly tiring.
In the midst of everything, I try to remember that in summer, mothering is my highest priority. Trying to make sure they have some good memories to look back on is important to me. But…working is important to me too. It’s slightly alarming how much business has dropped in the last few months. Summer is when I really love to bring in some extra cash for farmer’s markets, craft fairs, day trips, etc. And it’s just not happening. Maybe because it’s a slow buying season I can validate having a slow making season and just roll with it. But I can’t help worrying and stressing that I’m not doing enough, I’m not making what the people want, and I’m just plain not good enough anymore. I have such high hopes every day that I’ll be able to put in a few hours of real work between everything. But life just gets in the way. Kids and Annie, and when they’re actually leaving me alone the cats start bugging me (always!), they are in my facing and demanding something from me all day long. On the rare days I do put in a solid couple of hours, like this morning, I usually just give in and let my kids watch tv or play video games for hours at a time because I just can’t deal. And then I feel like an awesome and creative maker, but it comes with the price of being a terrible mom. There is no middle ground!
And this is just focusing on my two main priorities for the day. Housework? Laundry? Cooking? Gardening? Exercise? HA! No time for any of that. No energy, no motivation, no incentive.
Anyway. Two months of summer are behind us. June flew by with summer school. July was a whirlwind of traveling and family get togethers. We were busy, certainly, but I also felt out of control. We did fun things and I’m not complaining about it. But my life did not feel like my own because there were just so many places we needed to be and things we needed to do. I like feeling like I have more control over everything. And this summer, control is not in my hands! Even things as simple as grocery shopping. I don’t have control because my kids can’t stand me taking them on errands and do everything in their power to make the trip miserable. I have to set aside the notion of so many little things I’d love to do to make myself happy because I know they’ll throw such a fit about it that it’s just not worth the effort. Even things like listening to podcasts, an audio book, or watching a tv show while I sew. I listen for two minutes then have to stop because someone interrupts me. Five minutes, stop. Thirty seconds, stop. I finally just give up because what’s the point?! Nothing I do during the summer belongs to me. And some days, that’s a hard truth to face.
(Shepard has asked me no less than six times since I started writing this, “What can I DO??”)
So we’re to August now. There are exactly four weeks until school starts. And I want these four weeks to count. I want them to be filled with fun and laughter. I want my kids to realize I made choices about our days with them in mind. I want to loosen up about feeling like I need to work. But I don’t want to give it up either, because it makes me happy. I’ll continue to search for that nonexistent level of balance that I think will finally make me feel like I’m doing enough in every area of my life. It’s probably impossible. But I’m going to try!