My son is back in school after three months of summer break, and I haven’t figured out if that makes me want to leap for joy—since I have a tiny bit of order back in my life—or hug him a little longer, because I miss my other 24-hour sidekick.
I’m new to the stay-at-home-mom gig, and this was my first summer at home with my kids. To say it was an adventure is an understatement.
There were days that were absolutely picture perfect.
The ones when the kids were beaming with laughter, we explored a new city together, and I drank coffee that hadn’t gone cold. It was marvelous. I’d even go as far as calling it magical.
These were the days that reminded me of the reason I put my decade-long career on pause in the first place. There is no place I’d rather be than in the presence of these two little love-bugs.
My little humans were an absolute blast, and they reminded me how lucky I was to spend away the day with their tiny hands in mine. Even a thousand photos couldn’t capture a single ounce of the joy I experienced on these days. We giggled. We explored. We created memories. I was riding a high—perhaps the hot coffee I enjoyed in the morning had a little bit to do with it—but mostly, it was my well-behaved, huggie-dispensing, “I love you” exclaiming kids that made me beam. I’d quietly celebrate the idea that I must be doing something right after all. Parenting? Pshh, I got this.
And then there were…those days.
One child screams in a competitive plea for attention, whom I carefully console for fear of jeopardizing his chance at being an emotionally stable adult. “You are special to me. I love you. No, I don’t love your brother more!”
Meanwhile, little Nolan Ryan is practicing his pitches from the highchair. Why wouldn’t I want to pick up spaghetti off the floor for the fourth time? When I think we’ve finally reached a dormant state, the baby’s diaper explodes from a volcanic eruption which now necessitates a complete bath. Oh, by the way, I still haven’t eaten—and a shower sounds like a luxury that only princesses get to experience.
A small gleam of hope sparkles when I finally get a child to nap, and it’s quickly crushed as I notice the baby propped up in the crib after only 15 short minutes. I muster up some energy to prepare a healthy-ish dinner (by this point, ketchup is looking like a fruit) and finally get these adorable yet gangster children to bed. With all intention to brainlessly watch some tube, I pass out on the couch…yes, those days.
It was easy on those days to question whether providing my kids a “magical” summer was a far-fetched idea and a little bit naïve. The idea of failure was a hard pill to swallow. But let’s face it, when you’re wiping oatmeal out of your hair and you can’t find one single pair of clean pajama bottoms for the toddler, it’s hard to see the big picture. I felt down on myself, and I thought the only magic I was giving my kids was the fact that Mommy hadn’t completely collapsed on top of one of the very full laundry baskets.
Now, as I sit here reminiscing about the three months my children and I spent together, I can see how silly it was to think that there wasn’t magic in every single day—regardless if it was smooth sailing or chaos-filled.
The fact is, our “mom egos” certainly get bruised (“How were all those other moms doing it?”), but we are in fact giving our kids the magical childhood that we dream to provide.
To our kids, being loved and feeling loved is where the magic exists. Feeling connected to us is how the magic lives.
It doesn’t exist in the perfectly designed science projects or the plethora of trips to museums. It doesn’t exist in how calmly and quickly we finished lunch and clean up.
It exists within us and our bonds.
From the exotic adventures, to the completely mundane, it’s the experience of being together that makes their childhood magical. I realized that the joy is, in fact, in a collection of moments: sometimes in the extraordinary, and other times, during the normal humdrum.
It’s not always about what we do, it’s about how we do it—smiling, laughing, feeling grateful.
It is just as incredible to:
>> Go to the science museum to learn about different types of insects, as it is to sit on the couch and watch a mosquito swirl around, and laugh as we try to capture it.
>> Take a road trip to explore a deer habitat, as it is to make a run to Costco because—well, we need food.
>> Attend a stellar basketball camp where he can learn new skills, as it is to also roll a ball across the family room floor “just for fun.”
>> Take the chairlifts to 11,500 feet elevation and gaze out at the amazing view, as it is to stand in front of the bedroom window and simply watch the cars pass by.
>> Take a dip in the cool waters of a hidden river, as it is to splash around in the bathtub with some soapy bubbles.
>> Practice our scales on the piano, as it is to make burping sounds and laugh really hard.
>> Spend hours at the boardwalk on thrilling rides, as it is to enjoy a lift on Mommy’s back across the family room floor.
>> Explore dark tunnels inside of a live cave, as it is to build a fort out of pillows and blankets.
>> Hike the mountains at night in search of scorpions, but take a walk around the neighborhood on a cool day.
>> Enjoy an entire day exploring the zoo, as it is to sit at home and enjoy our own zoo.
My children are getting the magical childhood I have always wanted to give them. It isn’t a far-fetched fantasy—it’s real, and it’s happening every, single day.
We can give our kids that beautiful childhood that we sought out to do the moment we first held their teeny bodies and promised them the world.
Sure, there are days that we feel completely defeated. There are days that test our patience and even our physical stamina. There are times that everything seems upside-down, but we seem to make everything feel right-side up to our children just by being together.
We are their constant in an ever-changing world—our presence alone puts the magic into motion.
The thing is, my kids and I were together this summer. We were together during the meltdowns and messes. We were together through all the action and adventures. We were together from morning breakfasts to late-night bedtime stories—and for that, I’d say there was some magic in our summer after all.
Author: Anisha Pandya Patel
Images: Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina