Days fly by in the summer. This is the only time we have to decompress, to hang around together and do literally nothing on occasion. When you have 6 kids there is very rarely a day to do nothing, but your best chance at catching a day like this is certainly in the summer.
We spend most of the day in the kitchen either cooking or cleaning up from cooking so you’re ready to cook the next meal. When I spend and entire day in the kitchen I realize what wives did 60 years ago. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think I could do this job without the dyson and kitchen aid. I certainly can’t compete with the stay at home mom who has only two or three kids in the fakebook house cleaning contest. I lose that one every time. Sometimes we have kids gone to different places and we get down to three kids, those are like days off. The only problem with a day off like this is you still have three kids asking when the other three are coming home. All. Day. LONG. Super relaxing.
Last weekend we went to Bella’s last swim meet of the summer session. It is always emotional for me to volunteer at things like this because I am so moved by these moments. I get choked up cheering on the new swimmers trying to finish without drowning and the seasoned swimmers trying to shave only hundredths of a second off their times. The swim meet experience has been so rewarding for me to see in action the amazing work the YMCA does. The meets are friendly, you see teams cheering for each other, you see high fives at the end of a race, and you see a collection of kids that genuinely care for each other and celebrate together. YMCA has been such a positive experience from swim meets all the way down to Mike at the front desk. The volunteers and employees know your name, they know your kids, they know your workout habits, and they are all part of your family. The community experience we gained from this place, the friends we have made, and the celebrations we have had have been wonderful for my kids. I’m so thankful to have this wonderful resource so close to our home.
Routines are difficult, but without a strict routine the children might actually tip the scales and start a revolution of candy eating and tv watching. We can’t let that happen, so we stick to a tight schedule to keep the ship sailing. Summer is also a time for routines to loosen, and in that process the younger ones have difficult behavior, and the older ones slide away from their responsibility. When you throw in one who can’t even speak English, things get really interesting. It isn’t overnight that someone learns a routine, but familiarity and consistency helps the integration process. As she relaxes, Alina has learned the rhythm of the routine, and in this she has continued to become more comfortable in the house. She has transformed from a girl tiptoeing around and asking for yogurt in a shy voice to a girl that constantly leaves the front door open for the dog to escape and blasts Russian karaoke full volume at midnight. Thankfully for technology they make volume limiting apps that our sweet little Russian speaker can’t figure out how to crack just yet. So happy to live in 2017.
As the summer progresses and I spend every waking second being spoken to or speaking to someone else. I can certainly say I got plenty of quality time in with the kids this year. It has been great to be home enough to get a solid understanding on things like Jake’s ancestor’s ancestor’s ancestor’s were Triceratops, and everyone knows they aren’t tough, hence all his whining. It has clarified many things for me, especially why the whole 30 has been such an important part of our family routine since January. It has clearly identified for me exactly how severe sugar, food coloring and any processed food effects their behaviors. I can’t say it has been easy, especially while in the middle of this paragraph I had to get up and peel a carrot because Jake wanted “something healthy, not a cheese stick, mom I’m not a baby cow, I said a HEALTHY snack”. Knowledge is power, powerful enough to move my exhausted body to the fridge for a carrot in the middle of the first three minutes I had to do something for me. I desperately seek for the purpose in the turmoil I create for myself in teaching my kids to be free thinkers and using their knowledge to move mountains. I could easily sit them down with a tablet everyday or in front of a TV. I chose to strictly limit the media not because I want to SAY I’m mom of the year, but because I really believe in parenting my kids with the least amount of damage possible. There are so many things to learn and do in the world, I really want to give them the thirst for knowledge and the resources to follow their dreams. My biggest wish is to see them go to the world with their individual purpose and personality, without having to peel every carrot after a good point has been made, but without hard work there is no reward. It is important to reward independent thought and the attempt at logic, even if I don’t know anyone in my family that was a dinosaur. I love to see them learning to be clever, challenging each other to be problem solvers and debaters, but that’s not to say our house doesn’t have the “who can go the longest without talking to mom” game. The older girls routinely win this one, and the little kids struggle to challenge themselves to stay in bed after stories. Seriously…. just STAY.IN.BED.
We have stayed busy because busy keeps us sane. We have been to many playgrounds, library classes, open swim. We have learned new piano duets, prepared different recipes, gone to the ocean, made bracelets, crafts, and many memories. The photos I share are the best ones of the day, mostly because no one wants to read a blog of complaints, that doesn’t mean it’s been perfect and easy. Imagine a house with 6 kids trying to decide which role they play in the Stanford Project, intoxicated by their justification of authority over another, exacerbated by the occasional sugar and carb, because it’s summer after all. Lets just say right now there are mashed peas on my living room floor from a food fight Ollie started, and Jake participated in, while Millie was the prison guard tattle tale. I don’t have the energy to pick it up right now because I haven’t written anything in over a week other than a letter to an attorney on how to end the boarder war I don’t even want to be in. No rest for the wicked? There must be even less rest for those who strive toward self actualization. Everyone’s lives are a marathon, you are the one that gets to decide how far you go, and how many events to participate in. I take all the elective training hills, which gives me more endurance and need a higher stimulus. This doesn’t make me better than anyone else, sometimes it makes me feel cursed. Why can’t I just sit an enjoy watching TV? Why do I feel this never ending anxiety to do more, do better, and learn something new. Monday starts the most potentially therapeutic three weeks of my year every year. The Bates Dance Festival. This is when my people come to town, the creativity is in the air, and I feel surrounded by love. I am so thankful to be in this community of people and share the best time of the Maine summer with talented artists who want to share their love for life. I hope there will be a recharge before I have to gather the energy to send back a little girl in a yellow shirt who has been so loved by her friends I have never ending messages on how badly she wants to stay here forever. I hope I can stay strong while I wait another three and half months before she is here drinking all the yogurt smoothies and annoying me with Russian songs on full (attenuated now) volume. Even in my worst moment I keep a strong focus on who I am, what I believe in, and how my path will change the world. This pain has purpose, even if i can’t see it in every moment. Hosting saves lives, no one ever said which ones.
Sometimes I feel like my life is a never ending social experiment therapy session, maybe one day I’ll wake up on the Truman Show. I’m really looking forward to the reunion edition in about 20 years. Until then I better go get my gym clothes on, because the guards are about to change and I really need to go run a couple miles and clear my head so I can help 6 other people navigate their own marathons.