It’s summer vacation and I’ve been counting down the days for its arrival since Spring Break. No, we don’t have any grand plans, and yes, my kids get on my nerves, but I’ll take a summer vacation with them over having them in school any day of the week.
I’m that mother, the one who loves when my kids are on vacation and I get to soak up every minute with them. I don’t care if we are just hanging out not doing anything spectacular because these days I’m hyper aware of the fact I only have a few more years of vacations left with them.
When I look over at them on the sofa while they are engrossed in something—usually a screen–I’m able to really see them in a way I can’t when we are trying to get from one thing to the next on time and I find myself becoming frustrated with them because they constantly make me late; or they forgot something; or I forgot where the hell I’m going.
Before I know it, my children will be spending their summers working, going on trips with friends, working their own front yard. And that means they won’t be hanging out in my living room.
Do I suffocate them a little by trying to burn these memories with them in my mind? Do I stare too much? Reach out for a hug a little too often?
According to them, I do all of that. I annoy them; I annoy other mothers by talking about how I hate back to school time; I annoy myself a little bit actually.
I don’t count down the days until they return to school. In fact, I dread it and still cry while dropping them off on the first day of school even though they are going into 10th, 8th, and 6th grade. There was a time when they used to wonder when this was going to stop, but now they know it’s just the way their mother is and they ask me to please wear sunglasses at all times so nobody can see my sorry display of emotions.
I’m the mother who’s more excited for school vacations than they are. The mother that overdoes it what with all my homemade treats and wanting to take them shopping and talk about their lives. I’m the mother who picks up their friends and then tries to get in on their conversation. They really want me to chill out so they can stop pushing me away.
But they are stuck with me. At 43-years-old I’m not going to change and they know it. They tell me I’m getting worse as they get older and they are right.
I know that much of my behavior is driven by my love for them and that I’m trying to be present because the changes that are coming as they get older are going to tear me apart. It’s my way of trying to gain a bit of control of a situation over which I have zero control.
But summer vacation means we get a break from the chaos of running around. It means I don’t feel like I am going to tear my hair out because I’ve showed up to the chorus concert on the wrong night, or screwed up the dentist appointment, or barely made it to pick up my daughter from lacrosse on time because my son had to be dropped off at the gym for his weight lifting club.
Summer with my kids, sans their busy schedules is glorious. I feel like a new woman as we greet each day without the school routine. These weeks spread before us are precious, but they are fleeting.
“I just want to be with you,” I said to my oldest today as we took a drive to get some fast food and I reached for his hand to hold it.
He squeezed my thumb, then pulled his hand away. “I know, Mom. You say that every single day.”
I ask him if a thumb squeeze is all he can muster up for his annoying, overbearing mom who has to nerve to want to be with him and his siblings so badly that she can’t stop reminding him of it.
He doesn’t answer and tries not to smile as he looks out the window so that I won’t see his face.
The thing I’ve learned over the years is that my kids will think I’m overprotective and annoying regardless of what I do. I have no problem telling them over and over how much I want to be with them, and how much I want to seal up the time we have left of these unscheduled days before their busy lives take hold.
They might remember me as being in their face too much and annoying the hell out of them, but they will also remember a mom who wanted to be with them and hated sending them off to school because it meant less quality time together.
And I’m fine with that. Just fine.