180 days ago; End of School Year and Beginning of Summer

Just 180 days ago....I felt so...FRESH.

Life was coming alive with possibilities. The beginning of every school year feels like that to me. My little cherubs were going to set all the records, get all of the medals, earn all of the certificates. And so was I! I was going to cook breakfast every morning after a long workout. All those homemade breakfasts would include PRODUCE of some kind! And I would never bark out whose chore is whose - not even once. I was going to be a model employee with clothes clean and with nary an error on any project ever.

And now...just 180 days later...

I haven’t looked at a Friday folder since Spring Break. We’re throwing every tail end of every box of crackers and withered grape cluster in lunches. We’re duct taping uniforms together. We’re shuffling our way through the dog hair toward the car every morning. The kids are signing their own permission slips. They're telling their teachers we can't drive for the field trip (and didn't even need to ask us first...they just knew). Mom and dad are half-heartedly AT BEST asking how their day went. We’re tired of Ground-Hogs’-Day-ing it through the same drive, the same alarm clock, the same same same of the weekday grind.

Jen Hatmaker describes how we're feeling so well when she says:

 "I will never finish and turn it all in and get it to the (correct) Room Mom and get it all emailed and I am pretty sure the final week of school will never be over and this is the end for me."

Let’s clink a glass to just barely eeking our way through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, shall we?

We’ve. Almost. Done. It. We’re close to the end. 

But wait. Isn’t this really just the beginning?

…Of 80-plus days of free time? In other words....10 weeks of:

* Do we swim? *Should we hike? * Where is sunscreen the cheapest? * Is (insert instrument or institution here) camp too expensive this year? * How do I manipulate my kids to read more (chick-fil-a coupons and shot-glass sized free Frosty's aren’t cutting it anymore) * What if I have the nerve to work this summer? * What in the world will they do to pass the time if I’m not “managing” it for them? *

Golden Gate Bridge during a rainy June. Such sincerity in those smiles...

Golden Gate Bridge during a rainy June. Such sincerity in those smiles...

Yep, 80ish days of that.

Are you ready for that, friends?

So we’re at a crossroads, would you agree?

Say goodbye to the school year #HALLELUJAH

and say hello to the summer #JESUSISURRENDER

So maybe it’s time for a shift in perspective.

If we’re between one thing and another – both with their own sets of challenges – maybe we could consider

FREEDOM

What if freedom from “the list” for the day released us from obligation?

What if the checklist took a hiatus for all things unshackled?

Could I be free? Could I enjoy the quiet? Could I wave the white flag of surrender and actually treasure this new season?

Here’s my theory:

If I rid myself of the shoulds and oughts of “a busy summer”…..I win.

When my to-do list goes from action to presence, I’ll claim victory when the school year begins again. Really sitting in the “NOW” of time with my Bible in my lap and a kiddo to catch-up with nearby…now that has potential to be pretty sweet.

So I sit here contemplating freedom. True freedom feels like a risk to me. A challenge to let go. But it's risk worth taking as summer commences…

Maybe truly living means examining life half-lived. I'm thinking of taking stock, and taking the plunge into the NOW of this life right here. 

After trying and failing to describe this to my friend Dale, she gave me a poem about "Presence" that seemed to SAY the THING I am FEELING:

"May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul."
-John O'Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us

Inner dignity of soul INDEED! I’m in for whatever that looks like. You? What’s your plan this summer?

Holly's Take:

Right around Spring Break, I was dreading summer break. Having all five kids here during Spring Break was no picnic.  IT DID NOT GO WELL . . . AT ALL. The summer will be kinda like Spring Break, except for ten times as long. The bad news is that this could be a very hard summer. The good news is that we will have all five kids together long enough to maybe possibly see some changes?????  I feel semi-armed, as I have been reading and re-reading parenting books that make sense to me.  It is going to take some real trial and error, but at least there will be time to see what doesn't work and, hopefully, what does work. In every single book and article I've read, there is one common theme, even if methods differ.  BE COOL!  It's like that commercial from long, long ago.  "Never let them see you sweat."  Or, like in Jen Hatmaker's book, For the Love, "I AM ice cold Mother Teresa!"  There is no room for me to get emotionally wrapped into all the control battles that ramp up when all five are here. I do have them signed up for some pretty tiring activities (think swim team every morning), and we will be keeping to some sort of routine, if I can possibly manage that in my underdeveloped "type A" self. Overall, I am a looking forward to summer break a little bit now, but the expectation to enjoy the quiet is not to be found in my wheelhouse right now.    

Megan's Take:

Oh my, lands! I am seriously laughing out loud and shedding a tear all at the same time. Changes in seasons ALWAYS send me into a bit of a tailspin. Just ask my husband. He's rolling his eyes right now, I just know it. To be honest, I kind of "play along" when other moms say the "can't wait for summer!" Yeah, me too. (???) I can't WAIT for my sweet little cherubs to be around each other 24/7 -- their constant bickering is like music to my ears. Somehow it feels easier to live (you might read "hide") behind the busyness of the school year because I can manage busy. There's always one more thing to do or another event to head off to.... But summer?  So much freedom kind of overwhelms me. And what about spare time to write and exercise? But I agree with you -- if I can shift my perspective and look at the freedom of summer as something to be cherished and absorbed, well, there may just be a little light in this tunnel after all. (I especially like the part about "another glass of wine" and "long visits after dinner." Yep. I'm in for that!!)

Listen, who am I kidding?! I like to have a pretty full summer. Not unbutton your pants stuffed with activities, but just enough to "take the edge off." Summer school, a mommy-only trip to the Dominican Republic, a whole MONTH at a Young Life camp! Yep. I'd say that'll just about get us to the first day of school. Cheers. :)