Friday, August 19, 2011

August and the Tsunami of Guilt

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When I used to be a teacher, I DREADED this time of year. Although August is still sunny and hot, I knew in a matter of weeks, it was back to the reality of work. And as I revealed in Xtranormal movies one and two and mentioned throughout various blogs posts, teaching and I did not, how shall I put this, *mesh* very well.

But as a stay-at-home mom with two young Babes in Michigan, summer is supposed to be a glorious time of fresh air and fun times (at least for a few weeks before the thick, wet blanket of humidity covers the area, nearly smothering us to death). Summer is magical and fun and carefree.

And long. So very, very long.

I was surprised by these very strong feelings of wanting summer to end.

To be quite honest, I am exhausted to tears by mid-August. I just can’t keep up this late night/early morning pace for much longer. (My Babes are poster children for the saying, “Sleep begets sleep.” They sleep *less* the later they go down for the night. And don’t even get me started on the witching hour(s) that occur between 4:30p.m. – 7p.m.).

And then the tsunami wave of guilt crashes down on me:
  • We have had so much fun this summer; why do I want it to end?
  • I’m a horrible mom because what kind of mother wants to not spend time with her kids?
  • This is Marie’s last summer before Kindergarten; I should want it to last FOR.EV.ER.

Between the anxiety of Kindergarten and the guilt of wanting the very short season of summer to end, I was beating myself up around the clock – even during sleep! I knew this because every morning, my jaw and shoulders would be tight with tension.

And then I came across this post by Wendi Aarons. I burst out laughing! (Well, as much as I could with my jaw wired shut with stress). So I am not crazy because this heat is stifling and having to be “on” for 14 hours a day with no break! This is normal! Thank goodness.

And then I read this post on Scary Mommy’s website by Yael Saar. Here is a quote that resonated deeply within my weary soul (but be sure to read the rest of the post because it is amazing):
But how about, just for a moment, we examine this: it is only human to get frustrated when our childcare duties balloon, while the rest of our responsibilities don’t come down even one notch. Add to that some record breaking heat-waves, summer viruses, a road trip, or perhaps cousins or in-laws visiting from out of town, and what you get by the time August comes around is a lot of cumulative stress. And now we still have the rest of August ahead of us, and by the time we arrive at the joys of the back to school prep, nobody should be surprised that it is mom who desperately needs a vacation.
One word: liberated. And if I had to add a second: relieved. Next time I think I am a bad mom, I’m going to remind myself that I am just tired. So very tired.

August (especially, mid to late August) is a tough time for me. For everyone, really. Thanks for these wonderful posts written by these amazing women. If you ever question what kind of effect your writing has on others, please remember how you were able to make at least one mom laugh out loud with relief and be kinder to herself next time she feels guilty for being human.

So how are you hanging in there these last few weeks of summer?


13 comments:

The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Gosh, I think the summer went flying by for us. I have a son going into 2nd grade and a daughter going into Kindergarten. I'm not looking forward to making their boxed lunches every day...and why is it that they only sleep in when it's a school day?! Good luck with your back to school time:)

Mommy on the Spot said...

You are right that there is a big trade off in the whole school grind. I have yet to experience this 5 days a week, so I may be signing a differnt tune in the next month or so.

New York Mama said...

Hopefully you will get some well needed rest (even before the school year begins)! It is true, the school grind is INTENSE! It has some fun, joyous, & great learning moments, but as the years roll by more & more is expected of students & their family. There are projects,hours of homework, extra curricular activities, bake sales, chauffering, volunteering, school trips, play dates, having to follow a stricter schedule, etc. Although much of this is quite rewarding, summer is more relaxing & you get much more say in your family schedule as opposed to the demands of the school year.

E Soutter said...

I am always happy when the summer comes, but Fall is my favorite season. Not just for the crisp air and the colors and the excitement of the coming season, but because THE KIDS GO BACK TO SCHOOL. Great post.

Mom et al said...

My kids are in daycare full time during the summer because I work, so for me "summer" right now is no different than winter. We took a few vacations and some nice weekend activities were enjoyed by all, but I did not have the overload of being with them 24X7. Of course, working with a family brings on different kinds of stresses! If it makes you feel any better, one of my best friends is a SAHM and is ready to loose her flipping mind right about now.

Tania Elfersy said...

Thanks for writing this and for pointing to additional articles too. Words have been rolling around in my head as I have tried to write about the exhaustion that accompanies the end of August, but guess what? I am feeling too drained, stuck to my kids and guilty about not doing more in the summer to string the words together.

Now I know why when I was a child bouncing around the house in the school holidays, my mom would leave us three kids to eat lunch in the kitchen, while she would sit in the dining room playing the piano.

After more than six years as a SAHM, I recently became a mompreneur. In the long, hot days of August, being a mom, at-home entrepreneur and finding time to play my "piano" is a challenging summer story.

ChiMomWriter said...

Um, forget rushing the summer - I'm trying to rush the full first 6 years! My kids are alomst 3 and 15 months... The end of summer holds no relief!

Mommy on the Spot said...

New York Mama, you are right about the school year being intense!

Mommy on the Spot said...

E, it makes me feel so happy that you said that! Thanks so much!

Mommy on the Spot said...

Mom et al, thanks for sharing that. Because I am pretty sure if I could pull my hair out, I'd be bald right about now.

Mommy on the Spot said...

Tania, I love how you said that you feel stuck to your kids. I think that's a great way to put it!

Mommy on the Spot said...

ChiMomWriter, I feel your pain! Hang in there!

Cindy Lou Who said...

It does not make you a bad mom or person to wish you had time to take care of you. Taking care of you leaves you better able to take care of them. I think you are wonderful.