July 7, 2011
It’s been three weeks since school concluded for my boys. With said finale came one excited child, namely my eldest who understands that this hiatus means trips to our local beach, boardwalks, and playing in our pool. It also brings one bereaved child, who is already mourning the loss of friends having the audacity to move on to kindergarten and leave him behind. There have been twenty-one days of sand and sea, moments such as when Zach declared he was “happy to be me”, joy, despair, and multiple trips to Starbucks by mom. I won’t say their mother enjoyed every minute of it, but it was lovely to have them home, and it will be equally lovely to see them return to their respective classrooms, which gives mommy an opportunity to wend her way back to sanity.
As I mentioned on Facebook the other day, I’m referring to my new best friend, summer school.
I happen to be a “balance girl”. I am grateful for the chance to be home with my kids all these years, but have never felt compelled to spend every minute of their consciousness with them. These particular children crave structure, and I find we all do better, mommy included, when our days are broken up into pieces. For Justin, this means attending the school, (and seeing the teacher), he loves so much. As for Zach, his education is an important part of the schedule, but so is down time with his toys, and an immersion into that coveted world of imaginative play. As far as I’m concerned, a little dark chocolate and at least seventeen consecutive minutes to read a good book are a definite requirement to a fulfilling day, even if those goals are carried out while sitting on a sidewalk waiting for a bus to return.
Yes, I’m still easily pleased.
While none of these crucial “components of happiness” were in evidence over hiatus, I will say I came to two very important realizations. Even though my “me time” had clearly gone on vacation without me, it became evident just a few days into having both kids around the house just how far they’ve come, both in terms of their behaviors, and their emotional states. Justin has displayed great taste in deciding to sleep past 4:00 AM again, and with a full night’s rest his OCD antics have dissipated, and his normally joyful soul has returned in full force.
Once Zach stopped waking up at night sobbing that he missed his friends (it had been only twenty-four hours since the last day of school, his is an exceptionally sensitive soul), he too became excited by the promise of what those empty, schedule-free days had to offer. Once their mom accepted that putting away six folded mounds of laundry and running errands would comprise the entirety of my personal satisfaction for the month, I got into the groove as well. For the most part, things ran smoothly with few hiccups. Our entire household was generally happy. It was as good as it gets here.
I realized it was the very first time I could honestly say summer hiatus was fun.
The second realization I’ve come to is that the years have begun to take their toll, and I am no longer as my dear friend so aptly puts it as “zippy” as I used to be. My kids require a singularity of focus, and at the end of a fifteen hour day in the company of small children, I found myself completely devoid of energy. I used to be able to grab seven hours of sleep and conquer the world, but at the end of these particular days, I found brushing my teeth to be a struggle. I’ve discovered I had to let things go for a while, like abandoning my cuticles and postponing the reading of a number of bloggers I admire. At least with the latter I tried, often propping myself up at the computer after the kids were tucked in, wondering if attempting to read these writers’ work was such a great idea as my vision blurred.
For a short time, I was a very bad, bad, bloggy friend.
It seems my body is telling me to slow down a bit, which isn’t the greatest of timing since I have a four-year-old, but I’m going to give it a try. I live in the moment more (particularly now that the moments are more pleasant), and I’m figuring out how to say “no” to people, which hasn’t been easy for me. I’m attempting to read more, a staple component of my happiness, and perhaps only multi-task three things simultaneously instead of a dozen. Finally, I know that I’m only able to contemplate this shift now because my kids are in a really good place.
Scratch that. Let’s say, in general, they’re in a great place.
I tell people constantly to take care of themselves. Now that the chaos of autism has quieted a bit in our household, it’s time for me to take heed of my own advice. And as my beautiful boys board their buses, I think I hear a lounge chair calling. I’d like it to know I hear it’s siren song, and at least for a short time, I will obey.
And I hope in your own way, you can join me too.