For Better or Worse Another Summer Slips and Slides Away
If you’re a parent who spends a lot of time online, it’s hard to escape the meme about making the most of the 18 summers you have with your children before they leave home. It crops up every year when the weather turns unbearably hot and school winds down. Like most parenting memes that encourage parents to cherish the moment, I find this one to be annoying at best and downright harmful at worst.
The grind of parenting is hard enough, particularly when the kids are home even more, without the added pressure of trying to discover some sort of magic elixir that will freeze time, or parent so perfectly that some imaginary version of your future self will look back contentedly and say, “yes, we really nailed that — could not have been better!”
The truth I’ve discovered in almost eleven years of parenting is that I’m not going to remember what we did day-to-day next year, let alone twenty years from now. So, to the best of my ability, I try to let go of any illusion that I might be able to create the perfect summer experience if I just try hard enough.
We live in a time when much of the world seems to be fraying in front of our eyes. Disease, war, climate change, gun violence, the erosion of the socio-political system. All of it is converging to make living extremely weird for lack of a better term.
My kids aren’t quite old enough to grasp most of it yet, and I find myself frustrated by that in some ways. I recently slipped up and made some quip to my ten-year-old about how he will probably have to be a climate change migrant when he grows up and he got upset. I quickly walked it back by saying, “Hey, maybe it won’t be that bad. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe all the scientists in the world are wrong.”
I didn’t say that last part. I make plenty of parenting mistakes, but I typically try not to compound them.
With all the outside noise swirling around and encroaching on my mental well-being, I’ve tried to take it easy on myself this summer. I accepted that the house was going to be a mess. I committed to keeping up with the essentials like laundry, dishes, and surface-level cleaning when…