Back to the grind

The Covington News - - At play - KARI APTED COLUM­NIST Kari Apted may be reached at kari@ kari­apted. com.

School starts next week and I’m try­ing to fig­ure out where my sum­mer went. Mama al­ways said that the older you get, the faster time flies, but this is ridicu­lous.

Be­cause we’re home­school­ers, we al­ways de­lay the start of our school­work a week or two af­ter the pub­lic schools be­gin. There’s some­thing deca­dently de­li­cious about sleep­ing in and be­ing lazy when you know that most of your friends are al­ready back to the old grind­stone. How­ever, with one child start­ing fourth grade and the other in eighth, the work­load has in­creased a bit and I re­ally can’t af­ford for us to de­lay start­ing by more than a week this year.

Still, I’m be­ing nagged to death by the an­noy­ing, overly-op­ti­mistic, mostly un-done sum­mer to-do list that speaks vol­umes about what I haven’t com­pleted. I didn’t paint the din­ing room, or to­tally de­clut­ter my bed­room. I didn’t catch up on my read­ing or lose 20 pounds. We didn’t plant a veg­etable gar­den or weed the flower beds. I didn’t get a head start on my Christ­mas crafts or do any scrap­book­ing.

I do this to my­self ev­ery sum­mer: make a lengthy list of things I hope to ac­com­plish then kick my­self in late July when I see how lit­tle I achieved.

But is sum­mer break re­ally de­signed for achieve­ment? I’m be­gin­ning to think not. I have friends who make their kids do school­re­lated work all sum­mer, and homeschool­ing friends who work year-round. Hey, if it works for them, great. But I just can’t let go of the ideal I grew up with, and that is of at least two months de­void of any struc­tured lessons or re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. For our men­tal health, I think it’s nec­es­sary.

My hus­band’s birth­day was Mon­day, and we com­mented on how rare it is that we make time just for us. Don­nie said, “ Yeah, but we have three re­ally great rea­sons for that,” look­ing at our lit­tlest one, Jonah, dancing with a dish­towel draped over his head. “ And be­sides, we’re so busy…” Don­nie’s voice trailed off.

I agree that we have three amaz­ing sons, but this sum­mer hasn’t re­ally been busy. Aside from work­ing ev­ery evening at va­ca­tion Bi­ble school last week, it’s been a pretty laid-back sea­son. Let­ting go of this re­lax­ing time to fall back into the crazi­ness that is the school year with kids — it feels like dan­gling from a rope over a pond full of smil­ing, toothy al­li­ga­tors just wait­ing to gob­ble me up.

Be­cause af­ter July, free time is a rar­ity. In ad­di­tion to the daily homeschool­ing and my free­lance writ­ing, there will be soft­ball prac­tices, games and tour­na­ments. Drama classes, re­hearsals and pro­duc­tions. Weekly co-op classes. Home­school group. Youth group at church. MOPS — Moth­ers of Preschool­ers. Writers group. Dozens of de­mands that I will­ingly bur­den my­self with for one good rea­son or an­other.

Just think­ing about it makes me wish I could zip back in time a cou­ple of weeks and slip back un­der my shady, pool­side ca­bana, sip­ping a frozen cock­tail and read­ing a mag­a­zine while the ocean waves crashed just yards from my feet.

My friend Joan says she’s tempted to cut out all fall ac­tiv­i­ties and just go old school, lis­ten­ing to old ra­dio shows while teach­ing her daugh­ter to sew while her boys do what­ever it was that boys used to do by dim lamp­light. It sounds so peace­ful, doesn’t it?

And I guess that’s why at the end of the day, I don’t feel guilty for hav­ing en­joyed a lazy sum­mer. Be­cause if not dur­ing the sum­mer, when would we en­joy any sub­stan­tial break? So what if we didn’t do math drills and ex­tra read­ing and field trips? I don’t think our lives would be any richer to­day if we had.

So I’ll launch back into the fall mad­ness will­ingly, be­cause this life is what I begged God to give me dur­ing years of heart­break­ing in­fer­til­ity. Even though it threat­ens to swal­low me up at times, I wouldn’t trade it for any­thing.

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