Back to the grind
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.