When people ask me how our summer is going, I catch myself, deer in the headlights, unsure of how to respond. There is the standard, "It's great, how about yours?" Or the less enthusiastic, "oh, pretty good," with a knowing glance. But the truth is, our summer has contained some intense highs (going to Story Land with my parents, Dana's visit to build the treehouse, lots of fun swims, tubing down the Yampa in Steamboat), and also some serious lows. Many words come to mind, and easy is not one of them.
Many of us have read this article about how we only have eighteen summers with our children, and so, we should slow down, savor, and enjoy. This is so great in theory, but what if, like me, you have a child who thrives on routine, and who is less than enamored, shall we say, with her 3.5 year old sister? I never wanted to be one of those moms who wishes summer away. Every summer and every school break, I have this idea that we will be unstructured, and it will be blissful. But...That doesn't work for us. The reality of "unstructured" for us, this summer, has meant fighting. So. much. fighting. Sometimes, I've counted how many seconds both girls have been awake before they are fighting. Many times, Julia's first utterance when she opens her eyes (if Margaret wakes her up in the morning), is to howl "noooo, Margaret!" The combination of Margaret wanting nothing more than to play with Julia, and Julia being infuriated the moment Margaret has an idea about their play, has been a constant source of stress for me. There have been physical fights that have left me speechless: punching, kicking, hair pulling. I have yelled more than I ever imagined I would yell. I have reread and reread "Siblings without Rivalry."
The thing is, when I find myself longing for autumn, it's not because I can't wait to be away from Julia and Margaret while they're at school. In fact, it's the opposite: I'm looking forward to a set schedule because our family is better able to connect when we have structure. Julia, for sure, is happier and more even keeled when she is in school. Chatting with Julia over a bowl of cheerios while I sip my coffee, enjoying a walk home from school while Margaret zips down the hill on her strider... We may only have eighteen summers, but we have thousands of moments in between.