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By May 1st I felt completely done with the 2016-17 school year. I was tired of forcing the kids to do homework, tired of dragging them out of bed in the morning, and tired of fighting with them to go to bed at night so that they wouldn’t be zombies the next day. I couldn’t wait for summer.

The summer started off with a bang, as most summers do. Daily trips to the pool with friends, a cross-country family vacation, and the wonderful, glorious joy of sleeping in.

The big kids could explore outdoors for hours or get lost in their Legos without a care in the world. Their behavior improved, and while it still came with the challenges of raising three kids, the summer was a gentler version of that reality.

Then slowly but surely our casual summer began to shift from a dreamy summertime anthem to Lord of the Flies. My introvert got sick of the pool, especially when her friends were on vacation and splashing around with her besties wasn’t a sure thing anymore. She complained, “Why do you always make me go out?!” She just wanted to stay home and read, draw, and play. I felt guilty knowing that she had less than a 3-month refuge from having to leave the house every weekday. She began to grow sick of her brother and took up torturing him as a game.

My extrovert still wanted to go to the pool, and skateboard park, and and and…every day. I felt pulled in opposite directions and each came with a whopping dose of guilt. The kids began to fight non-stop, wanting me to referee their ridiculous arguments every few minutes.

My toddler was still a toddler. What else can I say?

My contact with my husband during the day went from occasional, “How’s your day going, babe?” texts to phone calls asking him to talk to my son about his behavior to tearful reports of how awful the kids’ behavior had been.

We’re now in the home stretch to back-to-school and I am DONE. And I’m here to tell you that it’s ok if you are done too. You don’t have to be someone who always loves summer break or always hates summer break. Parenting is a mixed bag and your feelings about that role have every right to change throughout the season, month, day, and hour.

Raising children is full of heart busting joy and hair ripping frustration. I raise my mug of cold decaf to you, fellow weary parents. Let’s crawl through these last days of summer vacation together knowing that if nothing else, we can send loving kindness to each other through the hard times and the good because we’re all on this wild ride together.