Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Hey, you all. I just realized I subconsciously stole this post's title from my Internet friend Rita! Sort of. She said it better ("Motherhood is my cardio."). I read her just about every day, and I guess I find her so witty and charming that I unwittingly absorbed her blog's tagline into the murky recesses of my brain, where it hung out until I retrieved it, slightly revised, for my own blog. Oops! Sorry, Rita! *Awkward chuckle.*

It's OK; Rita's a mother to young children too; she understands that I haven't truly slept since 2004 and that therefore my mental faculties are chronically compromised.

So, it's August. I have a hard time with August, to tell you the truth. I hate the wind-up to school. School's not for five weeks, people! Stop showing me commercials for school supplies and new clothes! Gah. You're ruining my summer. Well, not YOU, dear readers. But you get what I'm saying.

I've decided that in my heart I'm a summer mom. It wasn't always this way, like when my babies were, uh, babies, and couldn't do much in the summer other than furtively try to eat rocks and sand. But it is this way now. I love summer with my girls, and the school year--with its alarm clocks and bus stop schedules and paperwork and teacher conferences and pick-up times and homework and school fundraisers and activities and AGENDAS--stresses me out.

And I know this is RIDICULOUS at my girls' ages; you don't have to tell me that if the school year for a preschooler and a first-grader seems stressful, I probably won't do too well for, um.....the next 13 years.

Which is maybe why I find this whole topic somewhat depressing.

Of course it's not completely this way. I really love my daughters' schools; they are small and sweet and full of nice families and surrounded by mature trees. There is a nice structure, in a way, to the bus stop and drop-off and pick-up schedules. Fall is my all-time favorite season, and the best time to be a runner mom. The few hours a week I am alone with both children in school, though no doubt filled to the brim with errands, chores, and to-do lists, are luxurious and still so new to me that I can scarcely believe they exist. Autumn in Minnesota is unbelievably gorgeous, an amazing blend of golden warm sunshine and then, suddenly, brisk wind and turned leaves.

But summer lets us all off the hook to some degree, from the schedules and the must-dos, and I like it this way. I like having my children to myself all day to plan fun adventures for, and go on those fun adventures with. I like hanging out at the toddler pool with them on Friday mornings.

And August means the end of summer.

I guess when you get right down to it, my problem with the end of summer and the approach of school boils down to wishing I could keep my children with me all day forever, sheltered from all the outside influences they are exposed to when they advance into school and become exposed to older children, children from families with different values than ours, maybe even children whose family homes aren't safe places for my children to play, ideas and words and topics they don't know yet because we don't want them to know them yet, but that other children will tell them all about anyway. My daughters don't know what video games are, let alone the plots of any mainstream movies or any vulgar words or the names of any tween superstars, and that's intentional.

It does not help that a week ago I saw a documentary about a woman who was sexually molested by an older child ON THE SCHOOL BUS WHEN SHE WAS FIVE YEARS OLD. Good Lord Almighty, being a parent is rough sometimes. Do I need to start driving Julia to and from elementary school every day this year? These are the things that keep me up at night, in August.

So, OK. It's August 3rd. There are five weeks left of summer vacation. Life is fine. There is a lot of fun still to be had. But motherhood is a workout, all right. It'll work your heart every which way.


Mnmom said...

I considered homeschooling for exactly the reasons you listed. I always get a little down in August because it means I have to give my kids back to the bigger world. And for the simpler fact that I HATE all those papers!!!

But we needed me to have an income, so I went to work and they went to school. But truly it's been OK in many many ways. Home is still the strongest influence in their lives.

And yes I drove them to school often just to avoid the bus.

Rita said...

First of all, *I* sort of stole that line from Carrie Bradshaw who said "Shopping is my cardio".

Is there such thing as an original thought anymore? Probably not.

And I'll have you know that I am ACTUALLY considering home school. Mainly because I'm concerned about how he'll do in school (He's been diagnosed with "SID"... long story). I wonder some days if he'd be better at home with me.


Also? I have 14 days of summer left. **sob**

Anne said...

I really enjoyed this post, thanks, Shan!

Donna said...

I know how you feel. We also intentionally keep our kids from video games, most mainstream media, etc. However, no matter how careful you are, they will encounter age mates who know of such things. (Note: this is also a big downside of living close to family - my BIL and SIL have very different values than we do! *sigh*)

So, we also teach the children about being smart and making good choices. So far, they themselves have not approved of violet video games, have voiced their opinions and walked away. When they do play (non-violet and less questionable) video games, they tend to get bored with it. And I let out a big sigh of relief.