Our family life revolves around an academic calendar. With school-aged kids and two full-time educator parents, we all pour everything we have into the school year. We teach, coach, learn, play sports, go to dance classes. We host three international students (our big kids) who attend the same school as our little kids. We go to PA meetings, we grapple with work-life balances, and we coordinate calendars.
This is not to say that our activities rule us. We are engaged and intentional. We guard down-time fiercely. But whether you pick your kids up directly after school or don’t see them until later in the afternoon, there’s no denying that a huge part of their day is spent away from us.
Then summer rolls around, and we try our best to unplug from everything. We run from commitments and spend as much time as possible communing with family and the outdoors, seeing new things, and seeking out moments that leave us in awe.
The summer is so many things to us…an incredible gift, a place of privilege, a saving grace.
However, the shift from school to summer is no small transition for any of us. The structure and daily expectations dissipate quickly, replaced with moments of dropping everything in favor of running outside to see fireflies take over our yard and impromptu days at the beach. All that time our kids had been spending with their teachers and after-care team abruptly becomes time spent with parents and family.
Each year, in the beginning of June, I’m called to get to know my kids all over again.
I mean, I know them. I know them deeply. I know them in and out and upside down. But there’s those little changes…the tiny increments of growing up that are so hard to notice when you’re in too close. When I give myself the opportunity, I see things I wasn’t seeing. It’s a small shift in their sense of humor or a new tone hiding in their voice. It’s a gesture I hadn’t noticed yet, a new independence gained, or the way their laugh has changed ever so slightly.
I have to do my own shifting, too. During the school year, I have a window of time between picking my kids up from after-care and putting them to bed at night. It doesn’t always feel like I get the best hours of their day, and I constantly struggle with the internal battle many working moms face of who gets their time. Summer arrives, and I have to reconnect with the patience needed to parent full-time. I have to manage my own surplus of time, as well as the sudden deluge of time I have with my kids.
As we moved through Day 1 of our virtual schooling (and I was jumping on the trampoline so much longer than I would have liked), I realized that, like every June, I am being invited to get to know my kids, yet again.
I do a lot of homework with them, but I don’t really know a lot about who they are as students. I hear a lot about school structures, but I’ve never actually seen morning meeting or Spanish class (like I did over video conferencing yesterday!). We are being presented with such a unique opportunity to know our kids in new and rich ways.
Of course it is going to be hard. We are only TWO days in and I’m exhausted. The change and the unknown are nearly overwhelming. My little kids, who are usually fairly independent, want to be with me All. The. Time. However, we are ONLY two days in. We can’t even imagine the challenges, or the joys, that are ahead of us. In the meantime, I’m clinging to the invitation to get to know my kids again.
Building community in new ways
I’m glad you’re here. Please use the comment section below to share how what new detail about your kids that you have noticed this week! Subscribe to the blog or follow us on Facebook so you never miss a post!