Thursday, August 6, 2015

And Just Like That

I have a 5th, 3rd, and 1st grader.

You'll be shocked to hear that I'm feel extra-contemplative today. For the past week, I've been walking around saying, "I feel like they just got out for summer vacation," to which Cory replies, every single time, "I feel like they've been out forever."

How is this possible? Where does the dad come up with this nonsense?

Staying in the mixed-up vein of my reality, I wasn't ready to see them go. (Say what?)

I don't know. It makes no sense. Toward the end, we were all dangling precariously from a very fine thread. But, for reasons I don't even understand and certainly can't explain, we had a great summer together. Of all the summers we've shared, this is the one where I've felt most present and we've had (it seems?) the most concentrated time together.

Aside from our vacation, we didn't do anything super extraordinary. There was no elaborate crafting. I didn't plan scavenger hunts or theme days. We didn't even make a summer bucket list.

Honest to goodness, I don't have a clue about what we did.

But it sure was nice.

There was plenty of angsting and there are always tears (at some point.) Calvin has started helping me cook more, and is actually at an age where he's helpful. Two days ago, the kids made me breakfast in bed - pancakes cooked on the griddle with chocolate chips in the shape of a smiley face. He went to violin lessons and tae kwan do. He took bike rides by himself around the neighborhood and even across the busy street. Sometimes, he rode back with friends in tow. He read so many books and felt conflicted about his emotions. He's ten, and we're all feeling it. Most of the time, it feels pretty great.

Ruby keeps on keepin' on with her bad self. She's my adventurer, my shy girl who would fly straight to your house and stay for a couple weeks without thinking twice. She has the heart of an opera singer, but speaks so softly that I'm forever asking her to repeat herself. She rides horses with her gram and zooms down the basement stairs in an old sleeping back with Si. She teaches herself to knit, and displays the patience of Job when it comes to her brothers. I could swear she's getting a rogue Venus gleam in her eye when she wields her tennis racket.

Silas. I mean, that kid. He's playing with the neighbors for decent stretches of time in which no fighting/physical violence/crying ensues. He asks me every single day if he can have whatever bottle/container/empty milk jug he sees me holding. He wants them all. Every container in every shape. All of them. All the time. He wants them for "'speriments" or just to haul around filled with water, ideally colored water, but whatever. He loves us all so fiercely that he sometimes can't contain himself. Every couple of days he flings himself upon me and says with intense earnestness, "Mommy, thank you for choosing me! I just love my family!" which makes me almost forget about the day he climbed up, grabbed the gas can for the mower, and dribbled "seasoning" all over his dirt pie and grass salad.

It's 9:38 a.m. and for the past eight weeks, we'd just now be finishing up breakfast and trying to figure out how we'll possibly spend the long day ahead of us. There would be grumbling and someone might be crying somewhere. But on this day, I've already been more productive in the past two hours than in the past ten days combined.

I'm so honored to be the mom of these wild, smallish people. They have schooled me in many ways this summer, and I've been taking notes.

Right now they sit in desks somewhere, just a block and a half up our street, bringing light to the corners where God sent them. He told our family to stand over here, on a broken street that doesn't look quite as broken as it did three years ago. He told Calvin, Ruby, and Silas to stand inside Chamberlain Elementary, and they do it with enthusiasm and (usually) humility.

I know we go back to school earlier than most of you, so here's my advice, for what it's worth: Leave your phone on the charger and commit to memory the long days in front of you where they keep asking to play Mine Craft or watch tv shows. Keep kicking them outside and making threats about what will happen if they come back in one more time. "Popsicle" and "rules" do not mutually coexist - there are worse things to say yes to. Do everything. Do nothing. Rue your messy house every single day, but don't sweat it. This is not the day for order or clutter-free surfaces.

Be scheduled. Be lax. Just be. Together.

When it's time, send them out. Know in every fiber of your heart and soul that God has a plan for them, one that He orchestrates with them, individually. He's got them, and they're good. Grab a cup of tea, clean the kitchen, and, you know, maybe dust off that book you're supposed to be writing (cough cough).

Today, August is the land, and we are all the living.


  1. How did they get so big?? Especially Miss Ruby? :) Thankful that I still have a month up here in Ontario before I have to send my oldest off to grade one and my middle off to Jr. Kindergarten. How did I get here?

    1. It's crazy-making if you think on it too long... My best coping mechanism involves something salty and a stack of library books. :)

    2. I like your thinking... although chocolate added to the salt might just be perfection.... chocolate covered pretzels... where are you? ;)

  2. Aw, you're a good mama with some cutie kids! Made me tear up just thinking about summer coming to an end. Summer is all those things rolled into one - togetherness. A whole mixed-up pot of personalities, closeness, messiness, love, irritability, growth and that sense of deep belonging. Summer is when we moms fall into bed exhausted each night but on the rare occasion the littles go to bed a few hours before us, we begin to miss them like crazy... Glued together during hot summer days, for better or worse. It's the best. I can't stand the thought of it coming to an end...(Though I do look forward to cleaning the house and being able to think in complete sentences.) Enjoy just a little time to clear your head... they'll be swinging through that door soon with lots of stories to tell! Xo, ~julie

  3. This is my 3rd year now to not have a kiddo starting school. It's wonderful and weird all at the same time. May God continue to guide each one of you as you shine light in your community. Onward and upward......

  4. I'm with you.My kids are 11and 16,and I cannot tell you how hard it is to go back.I am a teacher, so throw that in the mix and the tears are real! I leave at 6:30 every morning.So being home to make french toast and bacon and eggs and fix pony tails and go for 2,8 mile walls with my son ….these things leave me wanting MORE! (yes,even through grumpiness and messy rooms)…and who doesn't love playing UNO for hours. Sigh.

  5. I wait expectantly for each of your blog posts, all of them, the angsty ones, the thrift store adventures, the cute kiddo pictures, every last one of them. Summer, like raising kids, goes fast/slow. The days are slow but the years are fast. Thanks for sharing your reflections. My kiddos are now 23 and 21 and I miss those days of playgrounds and popsicles. But there are new joys to be had, watching them as they continue to grow into the people God wants them to be.

  6. today is the first day of school here too, and my almost-21-year-old sits downstairs. he's home after a summer away working and it's great and weird all at the same time.

    i'd LOVE to see a video of Ruby and Si using the sleeping bag as transportation!

    have a great day!

  7. I love it that Si Pie tells you how happy he is to be in our family and that you chose him. They are so amazing and look picture perfect ready for their new adventures. Now you get cracker jackin and get that book finished.

  8. Ahh...all of this. :) My littles have another month since they're in preschool but I'm trying desperately to treasure this time since next year there'll be one more in the mix. I'm totally with you. Seems like we all just got out of school but years ago at the same time.

  9. Love it, love you! Ian is a FRESHMAN this year, Emma and Joel are fifth graders. It's crazy. And, i have to say I agree with Cory. ;)

  10. Love it, love you! Ian is a FRESHMAN this year, Emma and Joel are fifth graders. It's crazy. And, i have to say I agree with Cory. ;)

  11. "They have schooled me in many ways this summer and I've been taking notes.". This is so true at my house, too. Love this post!

  12. Such great advice! I'm going to use it!