June 5, 2012

What Summer's For

At Field Day yesterday, I told Reese's kindergarten teacher that I'm looking forward to summer, especially because I'll have all my boys home with me each day. She seemed surprised by my statement, quickly adding, "I'm so glad to hear that. I don't usually hear that from moms right before school gets out."
The truth is that my joy and attitude about summer with my boys is a new development. In the past few weeks, end-of-the-year fatigue has set in as we've gone from one activity to the next and one ministry opportunity to the next. With fatigue has come frustration over whining kids, looming deadlines, overwhelming schedules, and an unending parade of needs. As summer has approached (school lets out on Friday), my dread has risen at the thought that summer might be a continuation of the craziness.

I get like this, I must say, when my priorities are out of whack, when I'm allowing everyone's needs or desires (or my own needs and desires) to take precedence over my primary ministry: my children. They are, after all, blessings, not burdens to be squeezed into the last moments of my day. I'm experiencing this tension between ministry and family more now that my children are growing older and cannot be toted around on my hip; now that they are more acutely aware of who and what get my attention; and now that the ministry responsibilities are greater.

I spoke about this with a friend, telling her how I'm trying to fit too many things into my life and how summer will certainly make my brain explode. She smiled knowingly and succinctly summarized summer: "It's a perfect time to enjoy your relationships with your children. Don't let it slip away." She should know: her son leaves at the end of the summer for college.

After that conversation, I thought about my own children leaving for college, about what's important. When they get older, past these days when they love being together and with Kyle and me, what will have mattered are the very things, in my haste, that I'm overlooking today: relationship, affection, listening, affirmation, time together as a family.

I went home and looked each of my children directly in the eye, marveling at these young men growing up before me. Do they know, really know, how much I love them, how they are more important to me than my phone or my computer or the people in our church? I told them right then and there as I held their freckly faces and stubby hands.

Looking at them, my heart shifted. My life is not all put together nice and neat and there will be things other than my children that require my time and attention in the coming months, but, in that moment, I knew.

I'm ready for summer.

Are you ready for summer with your kids? What are you focusing on with them this summer?