Do you hear what I hear? Is that the sound of school bells? Oh please baby Jesus, let those be school bells ringing. I’m actually the mom crying for mercy in April ready for summer break. Yet here I am begging at the school doors to please take them back. And our breaks are only for 7 weeks! What did my mom do when we had 3 month long breaks? Oh yeah, she went to work and we just survived Lord of the Flies style. Take it from me, I am the baby of the family. Survival is key.
I had the opportunity to be a stay at home mom this summer and folks, I am tired. I am a mom of 5 and they range from ages 16 – 2. This means I have “bigs” who need to be dropped off here, and picked up there and “oh can I have some money”. And “mom we are bored” and how many tik toks can I watch you make. Does my living room need to turn into a studio for a 5-second clip? Oh, it does? OK.
When the bigs, who don’t drive yet, need to go somewhere we are dragging a two and 3-year-old along everywhere we go. The mall with bigs, fun. The mall with bigs shopping in stores with 2 littles. Not so fun. Trying to watch my son skateboard, fun! Watching him while keeping my other eye on my 2 littles who I am sure just ate someone’s gum off the ground. Not a blast. I’ve taken them to swim lessons, 6am volleyball camps, evening skate lessons, a day program for our special needs daughter, movies, swimming, up north. We’ve been going and doing and I don’t want to be taken wrong at all, I have loved being the one to do these things with them.
This was the first summer I was able to be home with them yet there were days I would have loved to just to go to the office, an office, anyone’s office for 8 hours and be an “adult”. It’s that balance we walk as moms that I feel I am a bit wobbly with. What I can say and mean with true authenticity is I would have not been able to be “on” as a mom all summer long if I weren’t able to recharge. I know the word of the moment is “self-care” but whatever you call it, I hope you have it or can find it because without finding a space for you, it can be extremely overwhelming being responsible for these little humans.
I almost cringe when what my form of recharging has been because I am not a gym person, but it’s been…the gym. I know that probably sounds trite. Believe me, I chose pizza over broccoli all days. I love beer and burgers and have never passed up a piece of cake. I am athletic, but never enjoyed the gym. I have never liked working out. I am someone who complains the entire time in my head as I do anything that raises my heart rate. So I am saying all that to explain that for me to say the gym has been my survival you must understand. It has been my survival. I have gone from counting the minutes it will be over, to counting til the next time.
My gym has free childcare and that was the biggest pull when I found it. The kids love it and call it their “school”. I am able to have 45 minutes of breathing and moving and strengthening my body and some days I am unable to think of anything but breathing. And as someone who struggles with anxiety, sometimes when all you can think about is breathing, that is a gift in itself. The obvious side effects have been awesome! Seeing tone, losing inches, extra energy. Competing in races like tough mudder and my first Spartan with my best friend whom I recently reunited with at the gym because she also has 5 kids and where else can we hang out than a place with free childcare. The community that I’ve made has been the biggest perks of all. We are a community that uplifts and supports and encourages and that is worth more weight than gold. It’s my self-care, my survival, my way to survive summer. And it will be my survival for all things because at the age of 40 I have never felt better.
Whatever it is for you, I hope you have it, find it, keep it. Our responsibilities as moms are overwhelming to even think about, let alone do each and every single day. We must fuel our fire so we can continue to burn bright for our families.