flip flopsI don’t know about you, but we’ve definitely got that end-of-summer feeling in our home. Everyone seems pretty resigned to it, moving unenthusiastically about the house as if there’s nothing to do for the next few days but wait for the inevitable end to come.

It’s always a bittersweet time for me; the first day of school feels like all my children having a birthday at once. Rather than individual birthdays sneaking up on me one by one throughout the year, all four of my children are suddenly and inexplicably older just by virtue of advancing to another grade. (Thank goodness my youngest is still in preschool!)

So while I am certainly ready to settle back into a tighter schedule that includes a few afternoons a week to myself, I’m also feeling a little bummed out that Summer 2012 is coming to an end. It’s been a good one, even if it has been crazy.

Here are the Top 5 things I will NOT miss about summer:

  1. Sunscreen, wet towels, and dirty feet. (If you live near a beach, you probably want to add sand to that list as well.) For whatever reason, I’ve been determined to use up last year’s sunscreen lotion before buying the snazzy spray kind. The problem is, it’s super annoying and takes forever to put on multiple little (and not so little) bodies. And if I find one more wet towel or swimsuit growing mildew at the bottom of a closet? Don’t even get me started. (I’ll pass on elaborating about dirty feet. Enough said.)
  2. Everyone going to sleep after my bedtime. It’s almost impossible to resist–the lure of late summer nights. And where we live in the high desert, the most beautiful (and comfortable) time of day begins after 8pm. It doesn’t help that many of the summer’s most anticipated activities (fairs, outdoor movies, fireworks) are often going on well after dinner, and once you let the kids sleep in once? Well, it’s all over.
  3. The loosey goosey schedule. Speaking of which, I can keep a pretty good summer schedule going until about August, and then I start to poop out. Let’s face it, it helps to have a place you absolutely have to be every day (i.e. school) and someone besides mom requiring things of your children (i.e. a teacher) to keep everyone on track. It’s shameful, but there have been days in the recent past when at least one of my children could be found eating lunch in their pajamas.
  4. Constant eating and mess making. Speaking of eating, why does it seem like someone is always asking me for a snack every 5 minutes? Of course, the older kids will just get themselves something to eat if they’re hungry, but they aren’t always super conscientious about cleaning up after themselves. (To put it nicely.) Unless you’re going on a field trip every day after a rigid morning of getting the house spic and span, there’s going to be round the clock mess making–and that can get tiring after 10 weeks.
  5. Being the entertainment committee. I’ve gotten MUCH better about this over the years (I no longer jump at every “I’m bored” echoing through the house during the summer months), but it’s still a fact that if we ever go anywhere outside our four walls, I’m the one to plan and chauffeur the activity. I guess you could say I’m at that predictable point in the summer when I just want to stay home and take care of business for about a week straight without feeling like I’m holding my antsy children hostage.

Here are the Top 5 things I WILL miss about summer:

  1. Swimming. Is there anything better than spending a hot summer day by the pool with your kids? And how cute are tan lines on those cute little bums? Who doesn’t like feeling the warm sun on their cold, wet body, sharing frozen treats with their kids, and watching them wrap up in those brightly colored towels at the end of the day with that blissfully exhausted look on their sun-kissed faces?
  2. Sleeping in. This is just about the best part of summer in my book. I love enjoying the beautiful summer nights as a family and the quiet mornings that follow as everyone sleeps in–namely, me! Nothing is quite so shocking to the system as adjusting to the new school schedule after a long and lazy summer without an alarm clock. I’m going to miss it! 
  3. Being on our own schedule. Speaking of sleeping in, doing our own thing is definitely one of the best things about summer. Want to make cookies in the middle of the afternoon? Fine. Feel like going to the pool or staying home with friends? Take your pick. Tired after a long day of home projects and want to take the day off? Why not. I relish not having to rush around in the mornings to get everyone out the door on time, or being bossed around by the clock and the school schedule all day long. 
  4. Having everyone home with me. Sure, it means more messes, but there’s something special about having all my kids under one roof the majority of the day all summer long. My kids actually get along better in the summer, and I really do love the sounds of childhood bouncing off the walls of my home as my kids carry out their crazy shenanigans. It’s a happy kind of chaos. 
  5. Experiencing life together. Along with moving and house projects, regular daily chores and mealtimes, this summer has included chances to go to the beach, visit an exhibit on Cleopatra, attend family reunions, hike in the mountains, tour a candy factory, and look out over a vast copper mine. Summer provides so many great opportunities to really experience life together, and that simultaneously makes for great teaching moments as a mother. That’s important to me since I’ve always felt I am their most important teacher. 

Do I sound a little bit confused? I suppose I am, but that goes for every stage and season of motherhood. While I miss holding a sweet smelling infant in my arms, I don’t miss the sleepless nights. While I miss all my children being “wittle”, I love having a built-in babysitter. While I love having a teenager that I can share books and intelligent conversation with, I’m not always crazy about letting her make her own decisions even when I know it’s the right thing to do. And the list goes on and on.

There are always two sides to the same coin, and summer–like motherhood–is just one of those times that will leave you feeling bittersweet in the end. The trick is to learn to enjoy the best of whatever season you are in at the time. Here’s to Fall 2012!

QUESTION: What will (or won’t) you miss about summer?

CHALLENGE: Learn to embrace whatever season of the year (or motherhood) you are in–both the bitter and the sweet!

 “Flip Flops” image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
All other photos courtesy of Allyson Reynolds.

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