I am constantly questioning myself this summer. Are we spending too much time together? What is the alternative? Am I too hands-on and involved in their lives to the extent that they can't (won't) entertain themselves outside my presence for longer than five minutes, ten if I'm really, really fortunate. They're past the demanding stages, the ages where they must be watched every moment for safety's sake...so why do I have absolutely no time to myself?
I'm sure with a few minutes of quiet time, I could analyze the facts: I'm a single mom by choice who is not utilizing childcare (also by choice) this summer. I'm blessed with a vocation that operates on the same yearly calendar as my children's school schedule. How many working moms envy that? I know I'm very fortunate. But then again, there can be too much of a good thing.
We are in each others' spaces and faces all day long. Then at night, I send the boys to bed and within 30 minutes, one or both are asking to sleep in my room. We're not just together every waking hour--we are in the same room 24/7, it seems. And even spending all this time together, I don't accomplish my parenting goals. (Case in point, today's goal was to read four picture books to Liam who is lagging behind in the library's summer reading challenge. Thirteen hour day--zero books read. Fabulous. Just fabulous.
If I could step back and give myself advice, I'd tell myself to notice how relaxed the boys are when I'm relaxed. I'd tell myself that often, if not always, my mood and reactions set the tone for this family. I'd remind myself that Henry and Liam are smart, healthy, typical boys. But they are young--they can only hold it together for so long. They get tired but they don't want to rest. Both are very observant, sensitive at times and often brutally honest. We converse at a fairly sophisticated level BUT that doesn't mean they are miniature adults. And they certainly can't read my mind.
Step back, look at the big picture, are they having a happy childhood? Get in close, notice the details...take a moment to be present.
Yes, that would be my advice. Now if only I'd listen instead of questioning and criticizing we'd all be a lot happier this summer.