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Seeking out Summer

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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.

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9 comments

nathan July 3, 2018 - 8:14 pm

Go swimming hun. You’re very strong and it might actually help relieve some of your leg pain and spasms. There might be a dock that you can roll onto or something. There’s also pool lifts at public pools!

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Codi Darnell July 3, 2018 - 8:17 pm

I do swim. I just can’t take them on my own because they mostly still need an adult in the water. Also I couldn’t save them if something happened.

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Kim July 3, 2018 - 10:42 pm

I’ll come with you 😘

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Codi Darnell July 3, 2018 - 10:43 pm

I know you would ❤️

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Cheryl McKenzie July 4, 2018 - 8:08 am

You just articulated everything I feel as well. As a mom and now grandma with a SCI and formally a hugely active person it is so hard some days. I smile and encourage everyone to carry on and have fun and that I’m happy to sit and wait but inside my heart hurts. In these moments I try really hard not to dwell on what I’m missing like walking barefoot on the beach and feeling the sand in my toes and to be grateful for what I have some days that’s easier than others. But it is what it is and like you I’m on a mission to enjoy every minute and find as many things as possible that I can participate in and be outside. I’m wishing you a fantastic summer with your family as well 🙂

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Codi Darnell July 4, 2018 - 8:10 am

Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in these feelings. Have a wonderful summer!

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Christine Connelly July 4, 2018 - 11:52 am

I always enjoy reading your posts but this one especially. I am a 31 year old wife and mother of one very active little girl and her equally active father. About 6 years ago an accident left me paralyzed from T6 down. I often feel the same frustration, longing, guilt and all around depression that the summer months seem to bring with them and it really doesn’t seem to change much over the years. I wouldnt wish it on anyone but as much as it sucks it is nice to know I’m not the only one – especially since I’m a unicorn of sorts and don’t know of any women with sci’s in the area let alone any close to my age with kids so thank you!

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thegsandwich July 5, 2018 - 12:19 am

Thanks for sharing your feelings so honestly. You didn’t ask for advice, but there is a man who rides around Hilton Head every spring we are there on a special bike that relies on arm power. He is incredible, in fantastic shape, and can enjoy nature and the freedom of the open road once again. Maybe something you would be interested in with your love of the outdoors.

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Codi Darnell July 5, 2018 - 6:44 am

Thanks. I have thought about getting a handcycle and it’s still on my radar. Not inexpensive pieces of equipment though.

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