With Summer Break just starting I’ve been thinking back on how much I hated March Break this year.
For about six years now, ever since my eldest first started school, I’ve watched on social media as other parents complained about summer break (or March break, or Christmas break, or whatever), saying how it drove them bats to have their kids home for x many days… but I just didn’t get it. Apparently, I am the odd one out here, because I normally love school breaks. I love having my kids home. I love not having to get up in the morning and hustle to the bus. I love hanging out with my kids. I just generally enjoy it when they are here at home, instead of at school.
However, this year was different. This year I found myself dreading the break, counting down the days until it would start in a state of gloomy despair. I was still recouping from being ill, and while I was doing much better than I was say six months ago, I just couldn’t keep up, and the idea of having the kids home for a week straight sounded utterly exhausting.
I had this looming feeling of guilt going into March Break, like I had already messed up before we had even started. Then, to make things worse, I caught whatever bug my kids and hubby had been batting around. I thought it had skipped me, but nope, it was just waiting for the perfect moment to strike me down, like say the first day of a week-long school break.
So here I am with this cold, or sinus infection, or whatever the heck it was, and I have two kids home from school for the week. Two kids who are excited about March Break and want to run and jump and scream and play. Two kids versus one tired out mom who just wants to hang out in her favourite wing back chair with a blanket and a box of tissue.
Prior to getting sick, I was already worried about “doing enough”. Like there was this quota of fun or exciting activities that I had to hit, one that I was worried I might be just too darn tired to do. I kept making lists in my head of all the things we could or should be doing. “Go to the library.”, “Play in the snow.”, “Show Grace how to use her sewing machine.”, “Do a science experiment with Gigi.”, “Clean out the bedroom closets.”, “Practice handwriting.”, “Go to the park.” and so on, and so on.
Then the break was here, and as the days ticked by I felt like a complete failure. By the end of Monday, we hadn’t done a single thing off that to-do list. Tuesday we fit in a Tea Party. Thursday we had assemble it yourself sushi. Friday we played a new board game. And that was it. In my mind, we had managed to do a total of three things in six days.
In between those three things, my girls did all the normal stuff they do when we’re at home. They hung out in their PJs and they danced and they read stories out loud together. They created approximately one-hundred-and-seventy-two drawings and twenty-nine different amazing Lego setups. They made messes, huge messes, with crayons and art supplies and Lego pieces everywhere. They played pretend. They took turns being vampires and robots and ninja princesses.
We didn’t go to the park. We didn’t play in the snow. We didn’t go to the library. We didn’t make crafts or do science experiments. Mostly the kids just ran wild around the house and laughed and played and fought and made up and fought some more. Mostly I dozed off in a chair, blew my nose, played referee and occasionally sent them off to their rooms so they would stop bickering.
By the end of the week, I felt utterly defeated. I felt like I was the Worst Mom Ever. We hadn’t done anything fun, or fantastic. We hadn’t even left the darn house. Scrolling through Facebook did NOT make me feel better. It seemed as though everyone else was doing fantastic things for March Break. There were pictures and blurbs everywhere, “Just a staycation at Blue Mountain.”, “For March Break we only went to the aquarium.”, “Made this awesome craft with my kids.”, “Look at these cupcakes we made!”
As we were getting ready for bed Sunday night, getting ready to head back to school the next morning, I asked my girls what they thought of the break. My youngest said with intense sincerity “It was the best March Break ever.”, while my eldest squealed “I loved it!”. “Yeah.” they both said together, “We had SO MUCH FUN!”
To me we did nothing, but to them, it was enough.
Little is enough.
In fact, I’m thinking it might be the little things that matter most in the end. The little everyday moments of playing, and fighting, and making messes that all add up together to form childhood memories.
Thinking back on my own childhood I realise that the moments I reflect back on most often aren’t the big vacations or the special occasions, but the times when I sat on the floor with my brother while we took turns helping each other organise our baseball card collections or the times we played catch in the backyard. The bazillion visits to the library. The hours I spent splayed out on my bed reading. Entire afternoons spent taking apart the tree stump in our backyard and analysing the ant colony that lived inside. Reading picture books to my little sister and playing school teacher. Helping my mom cook dinner or set the table. Watching “the game” on TV with my Dad.
Little things all strung together, like lights on a Christmas tree. One little bulb isn’t much to look at. Hold it up to close to your face and examine it and it’s not much of anything. But when you take a step back and see all those little lights all strung together it’s one beautiful shining mess. Little things are magic when you string them all together.
Best childhood ever. I had so much fun.
So that’s what I am holding in my mind this summer. Little is enough. If we have days when we don’t leave the house (or even days when we don’t get out of our PJs), so what? If entire days fly by and the most memorable thing that has happened is how many fights I’ve had to break up between my kids, so what? If the most exciting thing that happens in July is walking to the corner store and buying popsicles, so what? Little is enough. These moments are enough. Days spent listening to my children run and jump and sing and argue are enough. Afternoons spent colouring are enough. Evenings spent curled up reading Harry Potter right before bed are enough.
I’m going to savour this season while it’s here.
What about you?