Summer vacation has arrived! With minimal time to catch my breath over the last few weeks of school, I was definitely ready for a little break in the schedule. I’ve always loved summer. I have forever been a big fan of the long days, warm nights and relaxed attitude towards the everyday that comes with the season. But there is now a sense of dread intertwined with the excitement that I feel as summer approaches.As I find myself inundated with posts about summer bucket lists and advice on how to make the most out of every sun-filled day, I become overwhelmed. I’ve been thinking a lot about the last summer I spent able-bodied as well as the expectations I had of summers going forward and I find myself getting stuck inside the contradiction of the expectation and the reality of my life – mostly of my mom life. There is the idea of the mom I wanted to be and the truth of the mom that I am. In all honesty, there are more similarities than differences. Yet I find my attention is pulled to the things that set them apart.
There are days where doing life differently is enough for me. There are days where the new normal we’ve found makes me happy and fulfilled. But there are also days where I just want to take my kids swimming on my own to kill a few hours. There are days where a hike to a local waterfall with my family sounds like everything I ever wanted out of motherhood. And there are days where I want to hold little hands as we jump off of a dock into a lake. And every day, it is hard as hell to watch other people interact with my children in ways that I am no longer able. That part does not get any easier.
Early in my injury I said to myself that I wanted to join in wherever I could and send everyone off with a smile when I couldn’t. It is all a work in progress but the latter is my biggest struggle. Smiling through pain to give your children the experiences they deserve (guilt-free) is not easy. I’m not one to commend myself often but there should seriously be some sort of medal for that.
With July and August being about the outdoors for us, I find myself on the sidelines a little more often than other times of the year. The nature of well, nature, is that I can’t be as active in all of our adventures. Summer is about swimming, exploring and getting dirty. I was always one to join in with my kids even if I was self-conscious. I have photos of myself, standing on a dock with my children, and I absolutely hate them because I’m 50 lbs overweight in a bathing suit. But I would have hated it more to sit on the beach and watch. Now sometimes that’s where I am: watching.
So where does this leave me now? I want to enjoy summer. I want to see myself through my children’s eyes because they don’t seem to care which activities we do on our own and which ones we wait for help with. I will always miss aspects of my old self. There will always be moments with my children that I feel I lost. But those moments are meant for reflecting on, not for dwelling on. I don’t have a summer bucket list beyond giving myself the freedom to enjoy it for what it is and not what I wish it could be. Well that, and I would love to go swimming in the lake.