In mom world there is a common summer rhetoric: we must make the most out of this extra time with our kids. We must make it fun and memorable all summer long. We must treasure the time because we only get 18 of these summers with them before poof they’re gone forever.
Let’s say you’re a working mom, or a mom of a kid with special needs who requires lots of therapy even in the summer, or a mom of a newborn who can’t really get out and do summer things with your older kids, or any other kind of mom who feels like you can’t absorb every second of summer.
Then you might hear this summer rhetoric and feel more mom guilt.
You might hear it and internalize it, and start to assume that you are not a good mom because you are not giving your kids the summer of their dreams. You might stretch yourself so thin trying to do all the things: work the jobs, take care of the house, do all the laundry, make your kids eat healthy, and still give them the best summer.
You might lay awake at night trying to figure out how you can make it work for your kids and your boss. You might spend hours trying to rearrange therapy schedules so that all the kids get what they need. You might let your kids stay up later because you feel badly that you haven’t seen them much lately, thus pushing back your own bedtime. You might buy them the thing that you normally wouldn’t buy them because mom guilt is a real thing.
I 100% believe that each summer with our kids is important, and truthfully I do appreciate the perspective that “we only have 18 summers with our kids” gives me. It helps me remember that this time with them is fleeting, and according to everyone who has walked this parenting path before me, will be gone before I know it. But as a working mom and as a mom who has spent past summers crowding in all the therapies we possibly can for our kids with special needs, I feel so badly about summer sometimes.
A few weeks ago I took my six-year-old to an appointment. The nurse asked what she was doing this summer, and my daughter responded with “getting babysitted a lot.” Y’all, my heart broke. So as I try even harder to still make this summer magical, I only continue to run myself more ragged. Because we can’t do it all and the constant reminder from everyone is not helping.
The lesson I have learned is that it’s not just about summer. Summer is absolutely a magical time in a kid’s life, and I do want my kids to have sweet summer memories. But maybe my six-year-old won’t even remember the summer she got “babysitted a lot” when she’s a teenager. And in the meantime, she and her siblings are getting everything from me now. I’m trying hard to be intentional this summer, and I will try to continue to be intentional with them once the school year starts back up. Because summers are important, but the rest of the year is, too.