So my preschooler, known affectionately as Dr. Jekyll, has spent the last three weeks rhyming obsessively. It doesn't have to be real words — his favourites at the moment are "Jeff Schmeff" (we live on a block with four guys named Jeff), "soup poop" (of course, he's three) and "baby waby" (his little sister, his Captive Audience).
One morning last week, at some ungodly hour, Dr. Jekyll looked up from his iPad and said, "Mama, am I going to 'school shcmool' today?" It made me pause for a moment, I held my breath and my heart skipped a beat. I was immediately jolted out of my summer holiday, straight back to work. I could see 30 students sitting in my classroom. I could see piles of course readings, grocery shopping, dripping noses and school lunches. Suddenly I'm racing out the door, baby crying, preschooler screaming, blouse wrinkled.
Summer gives me time with my kids. It gives me time to breathe and unwind. It gives me time to catch up. But it's never long enough.
I stopped myself and took a deep breath. "What made you think of school?" I asked my sleepy-eyed boy (who was, at the moment, being rather sweet). He said, "Peppa Pig is going to 'school schmool' today." Ah-ha! I thought. Back-to-school is on kids' TV. It's starting.
At this moment, the iPad ran out of juice, and Dr. Jekyll's morning sweetness took a turn. He opened his mouth, wide and began to scream and slam his fists on the screen, "Come 'back, schmack!'" Moments later, I heard another squeal from upstairs — Mr. Hyde had, inevitably woken Captive Audience from her nap. My head and my kids — everything was loud and spinning.
Last week, my preschooler rang the "August alarm." With Labour Day upon us, I will continue to push snooze, repeatedly. But the August alarm is always the beginning of the end.
Yesterday, I read an article about how being a working mother is approximately the same amount of work as at least two full time jobs. Sound about right to you? I'm just so thankful for my 10 weeks of summer (and not just because I'm allergic to winter). I can't get enough of warm weather, sandals, ice cream and a bit of a break from my two full-time jobs. Summer gives me time with my kids. It gives me time to breathe and unwind. It gives me time to catch up. But it's never long enough.
In just a few short days, everything will change. Soon enough, Dr. Jekyll will be back at preschool. I will be back in my middle-school classroom. I will have stacks of course readings. The baby probably won't sleep. Or she'll only sleep on me. The unstructured bliss of summer will be a distant memory. I will trade my flip-flops for Uggs. I will feel nostalgic. There might even be some melodramatic moments. I will crave the smell of sunscreen and buttery corn on the cob. I might have nightmares. I will probably cry.
But not yet! It's really a shame that I spend so much of August anticipating the end when, really, I should be enjoying and savouring my freedom. So this morning I made a vow (Dr. Jekyll might say, fittingly, a "now vow"). Instead of looking ahead to Labour Day with trepidation and apprehension, I will live now, each day. One by one. Each walk with the stroller. Every ice-cream cone. Daytime coffee with friends. My plan? To make the most of every last dripping popsicle of summer, every sunscreen fingerprint on my sunglasses, and every sandcastle there is left this weekend. My now vow? Here's how.
1. I will continue to exercise outside
I will walk, jog (no matter how slowly and how funny I look) and do yoga outdoors. And I will savour it. And I won't complain about the mosquitoes (not too much, anyhow — OK, who are we kidding? I will still complain about bugs).
2. I will make special, individual time with each of my kids
Each day between now and the start of school. I will push baby Captive Audience in the swing and will take Dr. Jekyll to buy a new "truck &*#@."
3. I will jump in the lake and the pool
I will take my kids. (I might even skinny dip in the evenings because it's invigorating and because I can.)
4. I will eat meals outside
On patios and in my own backyard. I will barbecue. I will eat fresh fruit. I will drink cold beer. I will indulge. It will be awesome.
4. I will make time to read a book
Like, a real one, with real pages. I will read outside and breathe in the smell of the pages in the fresh, warm air.
5. Instead of feeling anxious about the unknowns of fall, my now vow is to be present.
I hope my list gives you some ideas of how to push snooze on that August alarm for a few more days and how to make the time count! I don't know about you, but I plan to live and breathe enough summer over the Labour Day weekend to last me until next June!
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