Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Always Bittersweet

Good heavens, the last three weeks have been a doozy!

The week of July 29th we held "Reynolds Camp" at our home from Monday to Thursday. (So much to say about that later!) Friday we left for Arizona, driving into Phoenix at 3:30am to get a few hours of sleep before song practice at 9am for the Memorial Service of Brandon's maternal grandfather at 11:00am. (So much to say about that later too!)

Sunday evening we drove to a Disneyland hotel where we stayed until Wednesday after two very full days of California Adventure and Disneyland. From there we went to Dana Point and stayed near the beach for two nights. After a day trip to the American Girl store and two more nights back in La Canada at Brandon's parents' "new" rental home, we finally headed home on Sunday. (We're straight on the difference between a family trip and a vacation, right? Because as fun as it was, that family trip left me wanting to go on a vacation--BAD!)

This past week has been full of "catch up" after being out of town (I loathe paperwork), doctor appointments (2 of my kids needed shots--Rachael for kindergarten and Will for middle school), Open Houses (by Monday night I will have attended FOUR Open Houses and one parent/teacher meeting since I have FOUR KIDS IN FOUR SCHOOLS this year . . .), hair cuts, school shopping, car washes, new school registration, last lessons of the summer--you know the drill.

It seems that every day this week has provided multiple opportunities for me to be alone with each of my children for various reasons while driving them to and from some activity or appointment. It's been great for the one and one time (I've been reflecting a lot on how each of them is growing into a new stage of life and trying to savor the stage they are in), but by the end of every day I have been FRIED. I feel like (and it's pretty true) that someone has been touching me, talking to/at me, or wanting me to do something for them constantly for weeks on end now. From Kate wanting to talk to me about brain bending things like time travel or complaining about the injustices of her summer, to Will constantly trying to tickle my feet or quoting lines from his latest favorite show (all the kids do this all day long, actually, and it drives me NUTS--I never know if they are really talking to me or just quoting from some show that I'm totally unfamiliar with!), to Elizabeth wanting me to see how she dressed her dolls or needing help in the kitchen, to Rachael making artistic messes or pawing at me like a cheetah (because she's always a cheetah these days), to the dogs licking and nibbling at me (Bunny licks, Yuki nibbles), and trying to keep everyone happy and semi-productive through it all these last few days of summer . . . you can say I'm a little bit ready for the school year to start. (I love everything about crazy busy family life so I'm not complaining, I'm just TIRED.)

I do love the natural rhythms of family life with school age kids. I am always SO ready for summer and then equally ready for school to start up again. And this summer has been no different; it just feels like it's time. I'm fried. The kids are fried. We're all getting cranky from the lack of sleep, structure, and routine. (Okay, maybe I'M the one whose cranky from all of those things, as well as the lack of alone time.)

And yet it's always a little sad when summer comes to an end. Not just because I dread the demands of the school year, but also because I mourn the things we never got around to doing. (Which is ridiculous because we did SO MUCH, but I'm greedy that way . . .) I think what I really want is an endless summer with a personal chauffeur/educator/nanny who takes the kids away for fun and enriching activities from about 9-3 (when I don't have my own fun and enriching things planned and I want to get something done at home), but they never EVER come back with homework or papers that require my attention. Doesn't that sound dreamy?

I've been pretty active on Instagram this summer as a way to record all the big and little moments with my kids, and the one comment (made by an empty-nested mom friend of mine) that keeps coming back to me is this: "These are your 'good old days'". I'm just thankful to know she is right. Sure, there have been bad days, wasted hours, and missed opportunities, but as much as humanly possible (MY humanly possible), I've appreciated every golden moment.

A summer in the life of a child (even the bigger ones) is like a whole little mini-life. This was the summer Kate learned to drive, started doing digital art, and went to EFY and youth conference for the first time (and danced with BOYS . . .). This was the summer Will went on his first backpacking trip with the scouts (a 50-miler no less!) and played like a "little" boy maybe for the last time since he's transitioning from elementary to middle school (sniff, sniff). This was the summer Elizabeth learned how to sew and earned her own money to buy the American Girl doll she hasn't stopped talking about for months. This was the summer Rachael learned how to swim (not confidently, but she can do it) and had her tonsils taken out. This was the summer Brandon turned 40 and finally hiked The Narrows, the summer Bunny came to stay (for awhile or forever we're still not sure), and the summer we finally organized and ran a day camp out of our house ("Reynolds Camp"--the kids have been talking about doing this FOR YEARS). And this was the summer I got to experience all of it with all of them.

Yep, it feels like we've experienced a whole little lifetime these past three months (both as a family and as individuals), but now it's feeling like it's time to move on.

It's always bittersweet.

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