By Sylvie Griffiths:
As a parent, summer break sends me into a state of panic. Will the kids have fun on our tight budget? Will my youngest survive being the only family member attending mandatory summer school? Will I lose my mind attempting to keep them entertained while I work two jobs and complete my MBA? It is, for me, an unbalanced, hectic, time.
I love my kids and their excitement of the upcoming break. I know how hard they work at school and I think everyone needs a recharge. It isn’t that I want them to be in school, it is just that I feel guilty this summer. This is the busiest summer of my life due to my responsibilities.
Recently, during a family movie night in the living room, I took the time to look at each of my kids. My oldest son is growing up so much, and he is talking about college and job opportunities. My oldest daughter is taller than me and loves to cook and is an excellent big sister to both her younger siblings. My younger daughter has recently started babysitting; I am shocked that a ten year -old can be so caring and responsible. My littlest dude is growing more confident and athletic every day.
My children will not be children forever. That night I felt a bit of sadness at the feeling that they would be adults sooner than I anticipated. I am thrilled for what each of their futures hold, but I will miss my kids were younger. No matter what position I keep a career, or what degrees I can list after my name, my children are my most significant accomplishment. But that mommy guilt sets in, and I fight against it a lot during summer break. Many of my children’s friends are travelling, vacationing, or attending summer camps. A family of 6 cannot easily afford these endeavors. We lack the funds to travel, vacation, or put the kids into activities this summer. My kids look forward to their summers since the first day of school so my heart is heavy anticipating their disappointment.
But that mommy guilt sets in, and I fight against it a lot during summer break. Many of my children’s friends are traveling, vacationing, or attending summer camps. A family of 6 cannot easily afford these endeavors. We lack the funds to go on vacation or put the kids into activities this summer. My kids look forward to their summers since the first day of school, so my heart is heavy anticipating their disappointment.
A few weeks ago, after I looked at my kids watching television, and realized they were growing up, I asked the gang what they wanted to do over summer. I was anxious and worried even to bring up summer break. As my husband and I work on our marriage during a separation, we are both focused on the kids and their happiness. Both of us feel the need to have a great summer.
I will not lie, the kids asked if we could have a vacation. I had to tell them no, and I could see some disappointment on their faces. However, the outcome I did not see as an option, occurred. All four of my kids listed activities they wanted to do with me. Pool and beach trips, park adventures, and fancy meals cooked at home during movie nights. Every mention of summer activities included Mom. And suddenly, my mindset shifted.
I did not beat myself up about our tight budget related to my educational endeavors. I did not feel pessimistic about summer. I felt so loved and proud that my kids wanted to do these things with me. They are growing up, and part of that is a changing relationship with their parents. I expect teen years being less than perfect, for example. But my kids still value time with me, and that is why this summer might be the best yet.
About Sylvie Griffiths:
Sylvie is a happily married mother of four who enjoys writing, people and chocolate.
She is an Evaluation Associate and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Healthcare-Adult Community Concentration, from the University of South Florida. She holds more than ten years of experience in performance assessment and behavioral health services and is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Springfield College, School of Professional and Continuing Studies.