The last day of school arrived and as I drifted through the car line, I could picture it all. Over the summer we’d do all the workbooks, we’d be the family who fills out the reading log daily. We’d spend time journaling at the beach. We’d do school most mornings and then I’d send them back in the fall, brains overflowing with new knowledge. But then, we signed up for VBS and swim lessons and day camp and we had playdates and before I knew it, summer was almost half over and I wasn’t the summer Mom I thought I’d be.
After lunch, we snuggle together on the living room floor reading books, but I don’t watch the time. Was it 20 minutes like the paper from the library suggests? Maybe, but I’m not sure. All I know is that those moments were the best part of my day. When I hear my voice reading to them, and they lean into me close, right then, I know I’m right where I belong. We read after lunch, at bedtime and throughout our day, but I confess, I haven’t filled out our library reading chart. Not even once.
As a Mom of 3 little ones, one of the things I’ve learned is how dangerous it is for me to compare myself to Mothers with older children. Right now, it’s not as easy for me to take the kids to tons of activities and have them signed up for everything under the sun. Guilt tries to swallow me whole when I feel like our home should be more “stimulating” during the summer. I worry that since we haven’t done a science experiment this week, or even this month…to be perfectly honest, maybe my kids are missing out on something.
Then my eyes open and when the comparison fog clears for a moment, I see what we’ve been building all summer and although the summer papers that were sent home from school are only partially completed, I see strong relationships. I see growing imaginations. I see the trio of kids that I somehow grew, all loving each other and playing together, as best friends.
I worry that I should have taught my 6 year old how to tie his shoes already, so we sit down, and I get determined that I’ll teach him, right then. We practice a few times and then I back off when I see how obviously, he isn’t interested. I stop comparing and I go back to letting my kids be kids. In my heart I know they all learn at their own pace, but sometimes I just forget. They get dirty, they run, they climb the apple tree and they play with a new-found frog friend for hours.
As we approach this last month before I send my oldest off to 1st grade, guilt has no room in my heart. We have one month of summer left and although I want to fill it with more reading and more art….what I want more than anything is to fill it with love, kindness and relationship.
“Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun” – Albert Einstein
When I worry that we haven’t read as much as another family might have or we didn’t practice our spelling, like the other family did, I will remind myself that never again will my kids be 2, 4 and 6 during the summer. Next year they’ll be older and I bet our library reading logs will be more attended to. For now, I’m thankful for this summer full of play and imagination. I’m thankful for the way their relationships have grown. I’m thankful for this opportunity to let them be little, before it’s too late.
Albert Einstein said, “Play is the highest form of research.” I’d have to agree with him.