With the boys going back to school, it is time for me to ask myself “how did this summer go? What worked and what didn’t?” This is only the third summer I’ve spent home with my boys, 7 and 8 years old (or as they would say 7 and half and almost 9). I used to work full time and both the boys were in a day care/pre-school that was open year round, so summer was no different than the rest of the year for us. I am sure there are some you who feel great sadness as summer comes to an end. I am assuming you love the lazy days (Mom I’m bored), quality (CONSTANT) time with your children, staying up late and sleeping in (kids don’t sleep in), grilling dinners (cooking every two hours) and endless laughter (endless fighting). Ya, well, I would love to meet you, actually, no, never mind, we wouldn’t have anything in common!

Every year in May, I am dying for summer – so ready for everything I think summer is (ie, the good). I am OVER the school year. Over waking up at 6:40, ok by May I’m usually pushing it to 6:55, 6:58. I am done making lunches……seriously DONE! I have so much hostility come May towards school lunches. Not to mention, they never actually eat what I send. I have no problems in May, taking their uneaten lunches and putting them in the fridge to be put right back in their lunches the next day. Repeat this easily for 2, 3 sometimes even 4 days in row.  I am lucky if they take a bite. The same goes for the fruit, I’ve washed and cut, with such anger. I’ll keep reserving it until it has clearly turned brown or moldy. Next year, I think I’ll just start sending empty containers and see how long before they actually notice. Anyhow this is supposed to be about what went right, not my distaste for lunch making come May.

At the end of the school year I am thinking “I can’t wait to sleep in, stay up later, enjoy my children, I don’t have to look at a lunch box for the next 3 months, no more harassing my children about their homework, no more school commitments and volunteering, no more excuses for why I don’t want to get out of my car at pick up (hint: gossiping doesn’t stop in high school, in fact I think most elementary school mothers can give the best high school gossiper a run for their money), there would be no more afterschool practices, games, etc……, I could just decompress from all of it, and we can relax and enjoy ourselves, deep breath, ahhhhhhhh (cue a picture of us sitting on a beach, boys quietly and safely playing in the water, while my husband and I talk with drinks in our hand, preferably laying in a hammock). Yes, this summer is going to be amazing!

Given that I start the summer off with such realistic expectations, of course it can only get better, right? Well, honestly, I did enjoy the downtime for a few. I enjoyed the lazy mornings, sitting at the pool, seeing friends (both theirs and mine) playing games at night with the boys, letting them watch movies that I probably shouldn’t, feeling a small sense of relief they can’t go running to their friends the next morning saying “my mommy let me watch —insert inappropriate movie name here—! Of course I realize, they will immediately share some of this when they go back to school, I am just betting on all the kids talking at once about their summer, all of which will sound so much better than our summer (even if it wasn’t) that few will remember or care I let the boys watch Vacation and Uncle Buck, (well, those are the two I am willing to fess up to here).

We talked about our few upcoming trips to the mountains, and looking forward to spending a week with their grandparents in the mountains. We were going to go to the farmer’s market, Band on the Bricks, the Friday night pool parties at the Elks, family hikes, baseball games, day trips to cool, small, mountain towns, after all, I had made a long list of things we would do this summer, it would be great, unscheduled and spontaneous.  So yes, the first few weeks of summer, did almost feel like a vacation, it was new, full of possibilities, and fun! I was patient and in good spirits, eager to keep the house clean and organized, the laundry done, the kitchen clean, the pantry stocked with healthy snacks, the fridge full of greek yogurt, organic fruits and vegetables, organic meats I would cook for dinner. My children were happy to sit and talk with me, cuddle next to me, let me sleep until 8, before they woke me up with “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom………I’m hungry!” I could handle the jarring wake up, after all, it was summer and I didn’t have to get up and make lunches!

Needless to say, by the start of the third week of summer, I started to crack (ie, The Bad). The clothes started to pile up, the kitchen was a mess, the boys started fighting,  shoes were everywhere, hats were everywhere, I mean, seriously, I have boys, is it really necessary to change your outfit (hats, shirts, shorts, socks, shoes) 3 times a day? And apparently boys are incapable of flushing the toilet, ever, but very capable of peeing all over the bathroom. GRRRRRR!!!! I had no desire to go to the grocery store, cook healthy meals, do dishes, and play games with the kids, let alone even look at the long summer “to do list.” I found myself taking them to the movies just so they would be quiet for 2 hours. Sadly this little trick could not continue, at approximately $55 (!!!!) a trip we were hemorrhaging money. All I could think about was “how much longer until you go to bed and I can watch Odd Mom Out?” By the way, thank god for Odd My Out, hysterically funny show on Bravo, check it out if you are looking for a nice escape. I was craving adult interaction, to be with people who would not utter the words “I’m hungry, I’m bored, he hit me, wipe my butt, where is a ball, I’m hungry again, I’m still hungry, mooooooooooommmmmmm!”

I should point out that in April my husband accepted a new job. This new job, was great for him, and we were all super excited. The one thing I didn’t account for when planning our summer, which of course, you need to start doing in January (don’t even get me started on that, JANUARY?!?!?! UGH), was that he would be traveling almost every week, for the entire week, sometimes on the weekends and when he was home, he would have to work until 9:30 or 10pm just to catch up from being out of the office so much. I was not use to this. I was accustom to my husband being home around 6/6:30pm (EVERY NIGHT) and if nothing else, providing me with a little mental break from the boys. Sadly I do have to group him in with my other two when it comes to the food conversation, but at least he says “I’m starving, what’s for dinner?” I missed him though, the boys missed him, the three of us were so sick of each other, we needed someone besides each other to look at, talk to, to scream at! I was barely treading water, after three weeks, how was I possibly going to survive 9 more weeks of this?

Fortunately we had an upcoming trip – this would get me out of my funk! The kids could spend time with their dad, I could spend time with their dad, and the grandparents would be there. It would be fun, relaxing and just what I needed to make it through the rest of the summer. It was a wonderful week, and I came home feeling great.

However, as my husband left to board another plane, for a week, I quickly lost that feeling, that loving feeling, of loving summer. Just three days after returning home from the mountains. What was I thinking? I had eagerly dropped out of the world, to spend summer with my family. I was alone, frustrated, depressed and in desperate need of sitting with a girlfriend or two enjoying a glass (or three) of wine without my kids. I wasn’t being a good mother, I had lost all patience and motivation. I literally cringed every time I heard one of my children say ‘I’m hungry,” or frankly just call out “moooooom.” Seriously, they needed to call me something, anything but mom. Bitch would have probably been more appropriate.

I wasn’t being a good wife. When my husband was around, which again wasn’t often, all I wanted to do was be alone. Finally someone else who can “deal” with the kids, feed them, clean up after them, come up with something to do. It was as if my new motto had become ABM – anyone but me.  I just wanted to sit, be quiet, decompress, and watch some more Odd Mom Out. I had swung from one extreme to the other. I was no longer treading water, I was drowning, I was desperate to wake up and make lunches again!

As a mother, we often, think of ourselves last. I tend to live in a world of extremes. I overcommit during the school year, spending hours volunteering at the boy’s school, running them around to various practices, games, carving out very little time for myself. Then I often try to overcompensate by completely dropping out of the world. Shutting myself in, with my wonderful family. I never ask for help, I am a mother, I could and should be able to do it all, right? WRONG. I have to start thinking about my needs. Carving out time for myself, time with my family, time with my husband (without children) and time with friends. We hear it all the time, that parenting is a balancing act.  I haven’t exactly determined how I will accomplish this newly discovered goal, being more balanced, thinking about my needs, but stay tuned. Families, like people are constantly changing, so as soon as you figure out what works for everyone, it changes. I am sure this will change too, but what I do know, is that I got up this morning at 6:30, made the boys lunches, dropped them off at camp at 8:00am and just a few hours later, started feeling like myself again. I reached out to friends, setup some adult only and child friendly get togethers. My house is clean, dinner is prepped, wine is in the fridge, I showered and put on makeup, and I am actually looking forward to picking up the boys from camp and hearing all about their day. It is amazing how quickly we as mothers can bounce back, after just a few hours alone or with friends. I had forgotten how badly I needed “just a few hours” to regroup, recharge and refocus. As usual, I figured this out just in time for summer to end, great timing. Thankfully tonight is the season finale of Odd Mom Out!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://sitter.app/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/courtney_carlyle.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]

Courtney is the mother of two sweet, wild, sports loving boys, one crazy yellow lab and the wife of a smart, funny, avid fly fisherman Zach, who is also known as her first child. She’s a HUGE sports fan and is known to hold her own with the most knowledgeable sport fans, as well as allowing each of her boys to skip school for the first two days of march madness (shhhhhh!). She has lived in California, Connecticut, North Carolina and Upstate New York, but has called Colorado home for over 21 years.

Courtney has been a SAHM (stay at home mom) for the past 3 1/2 years much to her wallet’s displeasure. Prior to becoming a SAHM, she sold software and services for over 14 years for Sun Microsystems and Rogue Wave Software. She loved sales and working for technology companies, as well as having extra money to support her handbag obsession, but decided to jump in with two feet into the world of elementary school mothering. Now her days are filled with juggling various volunteering roles and navigating through the crazed, overly competitive world of over scheduled, high anxiety, high achieving elementary school parents and children, while trying to stay true to who she is. As you can imagine, she’s known to enjoy a good glass of wine or cocktail from time to time (daily) to keep her sanity!

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