Summer vacation is in full swing around here, and although Mother Nature has been a bit too generous with the rain, we’ve all adjusted well to less routine, more Rose’ and getting through our aggressive “Summer wish list.” Our kids are much more independent than in years past and in an effort to not overschedule them, they have been given the gift of a bit more freedom to pick and choose their activities (and when they would like to complete their daily chores.)
Accompanying some late nights, over indulging in ice cream, s’mores (and possibly wine and mojitos), I have thought about (and voiced aloud) one of my biggest struggles with motherhood. This struggle is around all year, but without the influence of school (bedtime, homework and routine) it becomes more obvious: the battle between wanting my kids to experience freedom and whimsy while creating childhood dreams, and the discipline and structure we feel is needed to raise kids who grow up to be polite, responsible, respectful, appreciative and kind adults.
My husband and I have lots of goals for ourselves, as parents, that get projected onto our children. The most crucial measure of success, in our minds, is simple. We ultimately hope to “Raise a Good Person” (twice). As nice as it would be, this doesn’t just happen. Just like everything else that requires hard work, it’s easier said than done – some days more so than others. And why? Well, here comes the other half of my struggle…
I had the BEST childhood that I cherish to this day. It was filled with simple days of playing in the pool, flashlight tag, and basic nonsense. Some days I would give anything for a sweet day on Enfield Lane. I truly feel like those summer days of the past shaped the person I am today. And now, I also want my kiddos to also experience “a magical childhood.”
I want them to enjoy their sweet summer days without worry, pressure, and the demands that are inevitably part of adulthood. It’s true that “our children only get one childhood.” That alone is basically my reasoning for doing anything and everything delightful. I like saying “Yes!”
But being that I tend to be one of those people who are “all in” at all times, I am admittedly extreme with one ideal or the other – and they often contradict each other in both my mind and my kids’ reactions to me. We have chore charts, summer reading, daily math worksheets, and the like. I often tell my kids how lucky they are and how thankful they should be. I was asked last week why I am so “mean.” #success.
On the flip side, we have also have had many late nights, dessert for dinner, and plenty of fun activities and destinations to explore along the way. Just yesterday, I was called “The Best Mom Ever.” #anothersuccess.
In an effort to not confuse/damage these kids any more than the normal amounts of wear and tear, I recently tried to be very honest in explaining my split personality to them.
We were in the car, coming home from another fun day at the pool and I needed them to understand why I was buying them popsicles one minute and using my loud (ok, screaming) “Mom Voice” the next. I told them that my ultimate goal in life was to raise two awesome adults, and that this means I sometimes need to balance being the “best” and “worst” in one day. They listened and then, as they do, continued on by driving me back to insanity.
I am not sure that they understand how much I struggle with any of this, or how much being their Mom takes my breath away….but someday as they reflect on their “summers of fun,” I hope they will be thankful for the good and the bad, the fun and the lame. I also someday (way, way, way) in the future, hope to realize my own hard work in the trenches of motherhood….one blessed minute at a time.
WRITTEN BY STACEY
Stacey Marks moved back to Buffalo with her family in 2015 after a ten year hiatus in PA. She has a day job as a marketing professional in Corporate America. The rest of her time is spent resisting the urge to micromanage the daily lives of her husband and two kids.