I was really ready for summer when school ended for Julia in late May. I was tired of fighting with her about getting ready, tired of making lunches, tired of herding her and schlepping Margaret into the car. I daydreamed about leisurely, relaxing mornings on the deck...about leisurely, relaxing afternoons at Spruce Pool... about leisurely, relaxing evenings on the deck...notice the theme here?
And then, summer started. Julia rung in the season with a double ear infection for Memorial Day. Just shortly after recovering, she got strep, and then, a few weeks later, the stomach flu. Between illnesses, I tried various activities with varying degrees of failure: Spruce Pool, not possible with a newly-mobile baby and an active preschooler (the lifeguard wanted to "teach me a lesson" and jumped in to rescue a perfectly fine Julia, because I was not standing within the requisite 5 feet from her). Craft story hour at the library, also not possible (we spilled a new jar of glitter within the first 20 minutes). One of Julia's teachers was babysitting a couple of mornings per week, but between sicknesses, it felt like we didn't really get into a rhythm. I found myself missing last summer with Julia, when our days were filled with trips to the zoo, to local museums, to the pool. Our weekends were fun and summery: we went to a Rockies game, spent two weekends in Steamboat, hiked in Eldorado Canyon. I struggled during the weeks, however, and in mid-July, I realized with guilt and sadness that I was one of "those moms" who was counting down the days until school started again.
Thankfully, some things shifted. I resisted the urge to take a sharpie and gleefully X out each passing day on the calendar. Instead, I joined an athletic club with a kiddie pool that's small enough for Julia to be in all on her own, and with childcare that Margaret is slowly warming up to. A little exercise and a little pool time go a long way, and we have gone a few days per week. We also spent over a week in New Hampshire and Maine with my mom and Dana. Watching my mom with Julia reminded me of just how wonderful and funny she is right now (Julia, not my mom... though my mom is wonderful and funny, too). My mom always helps me to feel less "stuck" when it comes to parenting-- partly because when we are with her, I get a much needed break, and partly because of her insights into Julia and into parenting in general. I came back from our trip feeling a renewed lightness, which has thankfully lasted.
And now, there are twelve days left until school starts. Summer has provided me with some important reminders about getting my expectations in check, and has challenged me to find activities that work with both girls. It certainly was not the blissful respite of my daydreams, but with an 8 month old and a 4 year old, I think it went as well as it could. I feel fortunate for the past few smooth weeks, and am excited for more pool time, more barbecuing, and more ice cream between now and fall.