Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Long, Looooong Days of Summer

I was in Wal-Mart yesterday and I saw this mother and her three kids shopping together.  Her cart was spilling over with all things summer......Kraft Singles, Froot Loops, Cheetos, Hawaiian Punch, and the obligatory net bag full of popsicles.  One kid was sitting in the shopping cart and the other two were probably 8 or 9 or 10.  The young child was crying......no, I'd call it more of a wailing and the other two were fighting with each other.  The mother stopped the cart and put her finger up in the air and had a slight emotional breakdown right there between the fresh flowers and russet potatoes.  God bless her.  She'd had enough.  "Say one more word to me or to each other and I will tear you up right here in this store!"  (For all of you, who are not from the South, "tear you up" is what southern moms say when they're about to administer corporal punishment.  Now....."Knock you into next week" is what we say when the offense is too serious for the more lenient "tear you up".  Just in case there is a regional translation problem, that should clear it right up.)  Anyway, one of the little boys started to say something and the weary mother held up her finger again.  "Umm....what did I JUST say?  Do not test me!"        

I made my way to the self-checkout and, as I was scanning my items, I heard a lot of commotion at the checkout station next to me.  There was another woman with 3 or 4 small children with her and I looked over just in time to see her speaking to them through her clinched teeth, "No, you can't have that....you have one at home!  Go put it back right now!"  Her face had turned red......not like fire truck red, but maybe the color of those watermelons you buy in May when you know it's too early, but you just have to try one.  A pale, weak red.....but still....it was red.  I'm pretty sure I saw veins bulging out on either side of her neck as kids ran around her and tugged at her shirt and asked for things.  Our eyes met, I smiled sympathetically, and then she started the "smooth over" that we, parents, do when we've been caught loosing our cool in public.  You know......just in case I was a children's services worker making a grocery run on my lunch break.  "Baby, we're not going to buy something we already have," she said in a much more calm and controlled tone and with a gentle smile that time.   

The first thing I thought about as I left the store was how grateful I was that my kids are older.  Then, I thought how it's getting to that time of the summer when mothers, everywhere, are kind of over it.

Oh, you know how excited you are when summer first starts.  You go out and buy new outdoor toys and craft supplies, map out your day trips, and stock the place with popsicles and juice pouches.
To maintain order, you hang the new "summer rules" on the frig.....about leaving shoes at the door, reading 30 minutes a day, and having an hour of quiet time after lunch, which, by the way, shall consist of a mandatory piece of fruit.  Everyone will pick up their things and have little chores to do.  You're so excited about not having to pack lunches or wake up early or worry about homework.  You have visions of the children playing Ring Around the Rosie under the old, oak tree, coloring quietly while you read, and entertaining themselves outside for hours with the new croquet set you bought.  You've got grand plans about how it will all go down. 

In reality, summer never goes like that. 

By day two, they've never been more bored than they are at that moment.  You forgot that school hours were when you could do your grocery shopping......alone......without the flying monkeys hanging off your cart and dropping sugary contraband in there.  The craft activity you planned to keep them busy, while you watched House Hunters, didn't get you through the front door of house #1.  They each drink 55 cumulative quarts a day, changing cups every 12oz.  The book they'd picked out for their first week of the summer reading, well, you find the bookmark in the second chapter on the last day of July.  "There's nothing to eat" and "What do we have to eat?" reverberate in your head at night.  They all wear 4 pairs of shorts and 5 shirts a day.  The doorbell rings and rings and rings......"Oh, look...other people's children.....goody."  You grapple with volunteering for Bible school, but......I mean, that's 3 hours of alone time at stake.  The Disney Channel is constant background noise and you can't get those songs out of your head.  Wet swimsuits soak down into the carpet padding and dripping beach towels are crammed down into the laundry hamper, where they're found growing mildew 3 days later.  The washing machine hasn't cut off since late May and no one thinks naps are fun like you do.....insane, little people.  "Go play outside" will guarantee you a good 8 minutes alone to get some things done until, "It's way too hot outside".  It's hard to discern the children from the throw pillows as they all sit there motionless on the couch.  Oh, but, at least, family vacation is coming up.......the most unrelaxing week of the year in which you pack your home into the SUV and do laundry for 8 straight days after returning.                

So, yeah, I remember those days.  

Never fear, Moms.  I've seen you out and about with your kids.  I've detected the weariness in your eyes.  You're walking that fine line between sanity and a padded room.   

I just wanted to encourage you and say that July 5 is within our grasp......the day the store shelves will be lined with those glorious school supplies.  The Staples commercial will air, the shoe stores will run their sales, the LL Bean catalog will come in the mail.  Yeah, loose leaf paper, sandwich bags, and DTP boosters....they're coming.      

So, soldier on, Moms. 

Soldier on.     






7 comments:

  1. Oh yeah, been there done that. Now I see it going on with my daughter and her 3 and DIL and their 2. I feel for them, I really do....but I've done my "time" and don't miss is for a minute. HOWEVER, I do love to spoil the grands! We go out to eat, shop, play games at the house, and have a big ol' time. I'm hoping to take them all to the movies one of these days, whenever I deem it necessary to spend the $$$$ to get them all in and buy popcorn and cokes and candy. I went to the movies a couple of weeks ago with my daughter and granddaughter and it cost $25 for one, and I mean one, box of popcorn and 2 large cokes! I could feed a small army for what it will cost me to take all of them!

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    1. I hear grandkids are the way to go, Judy :) Have fun with them and then send them home! I can't wait to experience all that good stuff one day. And yes.....it will take you a large chunk of change to take 5 to the movie and get popcorn! It's really ridiculous! They'll love it though.....and always remember it.. :)

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  2. "Flying monkeys hanging off your cart" and "nothing to do". I was laughing and nodding my head knowingly in empathy. Joni, your words just comes to life. You should write a book like your friend, Boomama. I'm so glad that she sent me to your blog. Keep cool and drink sweet tea, Kathleen in Az

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    1. You're so sweet, Kathleen. I'm so glad she sent you, too. :)

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  3. Don't forget the single Dads. I take the 3 girls to WalMart to shop all the time. Worst I get is that they want money for the arcade/ride room. I have done the, Oh Crap i just put the law on my kids, got caught, and am hoping the real law doesn't show up. Luckily I do get days offs. But working and juggling kids is tough....

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    1. Keep it up, Single Dad! I was a single mama for years and it is the most stretching, wearying, rewarding and exhausting task of life (I think).

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    2. I can't forget the single dads, Charlie! You're doing an amazing job with your girls. I'm glad you find days off so you can get recharged. Thanks for cheering my friend on, Missy June!

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