Transitions are hard. Even good ones, like going from the bustle of school to the quiet and calm of summer vacation. Not that summers are necessarily quiet or calm.
As a teacher I am lucky to have my summers off.
Tonight, however, it feels like the skeleton has been ripped out of my life and I am left with a big blob of unstructured weariness.
It is hard to slow down. There are dishes to be done, a pile of laundry waving at me from the corner and more chores calling my name. I want to just go to bed because tomorrow my two-year-old will be awake early, and he is the alarm clock you can't turn off. Sigh.
With three kids, even "vacation" is a lot of work. But I do know one day I will miss walking into the bathroom and finding an unflushed toilet smiling up at me.
Stepping on Lego, sticky spots on the kitchen table, finding rocks and pinecones in the bottom of the washing machine; now they are irritations, but I know in the future I will think wistfully of these little daily reminders that I live with children. I just want to learn to savour the full experience now.
As summer sprawls before me, a whole 10 weeks of full contact, heavy duty parenting, my goal this year is not any big trip or fancy plans. It is just to be present and enjoy the day to day. I want to weed, but not just the garden. I want to thin our schedules and our lives so I can let the present moment flourish.
My older two boys were at my school the other day, and in the room where I work is a small bin of simple Lego. To my surprise they both played happily with it for over an hour.
"I thought you would be bored with these basic bricks after all the fancy Lego you have at home," I commented.
"Oh, no," my six-year-old informed me. "This is more fun because there is less to choose from." Sometimes less is better.
I know I am not the only one who struggles with too much stuff and trying to do too much. Somehow our expectations of what is reasonable have grown, but this doesn't always work for kids.
My eight-year-old wanted an extra long snuggle this morning. It was hard for me to stop and sit as he climbed, big and gangly, onto my lap.
My own need to get on with the day pushed like pressure building behind a blocked pipe. Looking back, I am glad I gave him those few minutes.
As parents, we have a steady stream of decisions to make. It helps when we have a clear vision of what sort of tone we want to set. I bet you cannot remember many details of what you did when you were six or eight or two. But you probably remember clearly what it felt like in your childhood home. Calm? Rushed? Stressful? Relaxed?
As we walked briskly down to the Salmon Festival last weekend, my six year old wanted to stop and smell some roses. My first thought was "but we don't have time! We have to -" but I am learning to pause and to relax. We stopped and I joined him for a sip of the delicate fragrance. We all moved on a little sweetened.