Only 18?

To the folks who tell me that I only get 18 summers with my kids, I say, “I know.” I get that such statements are meant to inspire me to be a better mom, to enjoy the most of every single possible fleeting moment because 18 is nothing, a blip that races by in a split second. And while that is true, those 18 years also contain some of the hardest stages and ages of parenting and I’m not just doing this once or even twice, I’m doing this five times over AND consecutively which perhaps explains why I feel so bowled over by this summer in particular.

In case you’ve forgotten, parents of little Littles have been in extreme survival mode for some time now. Our particular family was already In It after adding Baby No.5 and then embarking on a house remodel that would not die (but kind of tried to kill us in the process), and then COVID hit leaving us completely adrift in ways that we still haven’t quite recovered from even though life at this point has totally returned to the hub and the bub of pre-COVD times.

Maybe that’s what makes this summer so rough, too – we haven’t been this busy in years, haven’t gone this many places or seen this many people, haven’t been this social in years. So of course we feel more run down than we have in, well, years.

If you’re keeping up with my English major version of math, that means this summer we’re living in 2022 while making up for the last two years times five kids which is really three summers times five (that’s leaving out the parents who are both having-ish lives of their own, so really, this could/should be seven, not five) which puts us at 15. I’m living 15 summers this summer, so no, I really don’t get to slow down and enjoy every second of every summer with my kids because in a good year, I’m living five summers in one, and in this year, I’m living 15 (or maybe 21) in just three months (that feel forever long and way too freaking short).

But it’s not just me who is feeling this crush, it’s my kids, too. I think we all feel out of sorts without really knowing why and so there have been what feels like more meltdowns and problems than ever before, too. If we’re going with the logic that math makes sense (my poor husband – he’s going to be so insulted by the shade I am throwing at his subject matter throughout this post), it tracks that the along with the heightened activity comes heightened emotion and thereby all of those extra moments of struggle, be it between us and the kids or the kids and each other.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do about it. I’m simply recording it here because it’s what is right now and this has always been my space to make note of such things. Will we survive this rough patch? I think so, but in another moment of honesty, I don’t quite know what will get us there. We’ve still got two-and-a-half weeks until school starts which, again, according to my math, is like is damn near like having three months left of wandering in the land of no set schedule, too many screens and snack requests, weird bedtimes, and sibling bickering (this needs to be a post of lament all its own because holy wow, have they landed in a cranky place as a group). We’ll Little Engine this and keep trying, but please keep in mind that telling someone like me that she only has 18 summers sounds more like a dangerous mountain crossing than a walk in the park to be enjoyed.

Instead I’ve got to keep my focus on the here and now, the glimmers of peace that occasionally pop up in the middle of these endless summer days, like this – all five kids willing to be in a picture together after an hour at the park where we walked to burn off some much needed steam and fussiness that started their (and my) day.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Glimmer moments and a very astute awareness that I can’t force 18 straight years of magical summers (times 5).

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