“I never dreamed you’d leave me in Summer...”

Hello, Hopespotters-  or perhaps more accurately- Hotspotters. It is July and it is HOT! Despite the continually high temperatures, summer, here in Georgia, is drawing to a close. For some counties, children went back to school yesterday and the remaining counties will return on Monday. By August 6, all Georgia public schools will be back to the grind. Since this week is mostly dedicated to school supply shopping, final haircuts and orientations, that is essentially a wrap for Summer 2018.

I, for one, have to say GOOD RIDDANCE! While many happy memories were made for my family in the last two months, the pace of summer is one that is not “well with my soul”.

Many of you are facing your hardest summer: preparing to see your first born, or your last born, off to college. Every minute of every day feels like a battle against sorrow and a consumption of disbelief over the rapid passage of time. It is about to get painfully quiet in your house.

I understand. In four short years I will be, God willing, in your shoes. I am sure I will come here and pour out the richest language I know about the slow breaking of my heart and my despair in preparing for that goodbye.

But for you, and for ‘four years in the future’ me, I offer the following - an honest summary of summertime: the 73 long days and nights between the last day of school and the return to the first. And for the purposes of this “vent”, the names have been changed to protect the “not so innocent”.

May 24, the last day of school, I looked in the mirror and I said to myself, I said, “Self, this summer is going to be different. Summer has been hard on you in the past- too much to organize, too little routine. Not this year. Nope. This summer YOU are in charge. You run the zoo. We will stick to a schedule. The boys will help more. Steve will do summer reading. Randall will organize his summer work so that it doesn’t wait until the last minute.  Everyone will exercise. You can do this.”

And as I turned away from the mirror, I could almost hear the lingering reflection giggle.

Day 1: I have mapped out the activities and childcare for the next month with military like precision. My date book looks like the chalkboard from “A Beautiful Mind”. Now if I could just find a way to go to my job…..

Day 5: Well this week doesn’t really count. I mean, they are just recovering from the school year. After our trip to Richmond, the REAL rules start!

Day 11:  I just made lunch five times and I only have two kids. There was no gap between breakfast and lunch. Surely they won’t want dinner, will they?

Day15:  Two sons. Two feet. Two days since last laundry. 53 socks to wash. That’s not even an even number. What. The. Hell.

Day 18: Do we think the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on screen time are just a little aggressive? Do those judgey Mc Judgersons even have kids?

Day 24: Steve: Mom, can I have a friend over?

Me:  Did you do your reading?

Steve: Can you just answer the question?

Me: I don’t know. Why don’t you write it down and READ IT TO ME???

Day 28: Fortnite, wet towels, grocery store. On repeat.

Day 31: Randall, please make your bed.

Randall: I did!

Me: Is there a dead body in it?

(Bonus: they are getting exercise and becoming stronger. The ocular muscle that controls the upwards eye roll is working with Olympic like strength).

Day 36: Apparently changing the toilet paper roll is very, very hard. And why are there so many WET TOWELS???

Day 41: Bitter disappointment. Amazon, does not, in fact, carry everything. I just tried to order a cow, which is apparently the only way I am going to be able to maintain a milk supply in the house but they have some “no livestock policy”. Look into this, Bezos- chop, chop.

Day 48: Too many dirty dishes. Can’t. Keep. Up…. Have resorted to paper plates in an effort to regain power and control.

Randall: Can I at least get a fork and knife?

Me: You’re too good for your fingers now?

Randall: It’s spaghetti, Mom.

Me: I’m sorry. Is the QUEEN joining you for dinner???

Day 52:  I’ve been warned by the manager at Publix to stop “casing the joint”. I explained that I actually need a daily refill of chips, drinks and toilet paper and when I told him how many children I have he had the bagger walk me to my car. Something about the heat.

Day 55: Have returned from CVS with Synthroid, Zoloft, Diet Coke and Wine. I am ready for anything. I will use the 9 foot long receipt as my super hero cape,

Day 58: My friend called to invite me to a girls night.

Friend: Come on, we’re getting together at Julie’s. It’ll be fun.

Me: No way. Too hot. NO. CAN. DO.

Friend: But it’s in her house. It has air conditioning.

Me: And where will her air conditioning be as I walk from my car into her house?? LIVES ARE AT STAKE HERE!!

Day 60: (Reporting from the back corner of my closet, in a whisper) “I think the socks have taught the wet towels the art of asexual reproduction. I am both parts terrified and delighted by the thought that they might teach the toilet paper.”

Day 65: Me: Who ate all the cookies???? I can’t go back to Publix!!

Steve:  You did, Mom.

Me: You can’t read but you’re Sherlock Freaking Holmes????

Day 67: Randall: Mom, can I have a snack?

Me: NO! You can NOT have a snack! You are eating me out of house and home!!

Randall: I’m sorry. I’m fourteen. I’m growing.

Me: Well who told you to do that???? KNOCK IT THE F—- OFF!

Me again: And if you and your brother could stop pooping, that’d be GREAT!

Day 69: Steve actually pushed a door that said PUSH and I’m counting that as today’s reading allowance. We are ready to rock this school year, I am sure!

We are in the final countdown now and, as I write,  I’m hearing the joyous screams of a Fortnite kill as the washer and dryer whir with their “never say die” spirit.  I’ve given them names and consider them my best friends.

Monday, the boys will get on the bus, one starting middle school and one starting high school. They’ll avoid my first day photos that I’ll insist upon taking and posting on Facebook. I’ll caption it, undoubtedly, with something like “another great summer in the books” and, like a crazy person, I’ll mean it. We did have great vacations, camp experiences, laughs and togetherness.

But I can bet you one million dollars the first like on my post will come from the manager at Publix.  

And when I go back inside, I will wait for the arrival of my Martha, the woman who helps me clean (I know, poor me) and when I see her I will genuflect deeply- and weep.

Peace out, friends. Good luck army crawling for the remaining days. And for my Northern friends who have more than a month to go- may God be with you.










Olympic Parenting

Hopespotters: I spoke to an old friend today who asked me how the “blog” was going.. I shamefully admitted that it needed some love. I told my friend that, like in the case of many things that were truly important to me, I lost sight of its importance over the summer. I told him, and I meant it, that I have every intention of reigniting my passion for my blog baby soon.


So tonight marks the end of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. If you follow me on social media, you know I have truly enjoyed - and participated as one can from a couch in - these games. The past two weeks have brought in front of our eyes the whole enchilada of athletics that I so deeply love - the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and all the compelling human interest stories in between.


Back here in reality, something else epic happened in the last two weeks: school began. Whether it be for the first time kindergartener whose backpack goes from neck to ankles or the first time leaving for college freshman whose parents are trying to stand up from a gut punch, back to school is the parental Olympics.


Many of us have seen the footage of gymnast, Aly Raisman’s, parents watching her perform. It is the ultimate depiction of parenting- while Aly’s parents were in an uncommon placed while viewed, their leaning, peeking through hands, can’t watch - have to watch, body girations spoke volumes about parenting in general. Holy hell, as our babies go back to school, we, as parents, have to pretend to stay cool. And yet, like Aly’s parents, we are terrified: will you fail and we will have to provide comfort? Will you madly succeed and we will have to find the next best step for you? Will you be treated justly? Will you find worthy “teammates”?


To Aly Raisman’s parents, I offer a heartfelt slow clap. Check all the boxes in things done right. Successful? Check.  Leader? Check. Sportsman? Check. All the best things? Check. Check. Check.


How many of us parents entering into back to school pray for the same report from teacher? We pour our hearts and souls into these wonderful, wicked, weird human beings and after a summer of driving us crazy and pretending they’ve never abided by a rule, they go back to school.  Like Aly’s parents, I watch Ryan and Sean leave with my hand over my eyes, fingers offering a very slight peek. And I know I have great kids. For reals.


Back to the Olympics: I am so grateful for the personalities that played out and offered me, and millions of other parents, teachable moments. For example:


The Phelps:  Micheal Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. And my sons enjoyed his impressive run in this year's games.  For my money, Micheal is my favorite, FAVORITE story, because there is nothing I love more than a redemption story. Michael, always awesome, hit rock bottom with addiction and CHOSE to FIGHT back to use the gifts God gave him. Dear Ryan and Sean, take note….


The Simone:  Excellent is excellent. I have always believed people are born with gifts and it is a HOLY act to behold them executing their gifts.  Micheal Phelps was born to swim. Mother Teresa was born to minister.  David Beckham was born to play soccer. No one ever has been born to be a better gymnast than Simone Biles. Ryan and Sean:  this girl wasn’t born into the best of circumstances. When God placed her in the right path she worked hard and she worked hard and she worked HARD.  And then when her hard work paid off with success, she celebrated her teammates and had class.  Viva. La. Simone.


The Lochte:  I have to bury this in the middle to not end with negative. At the beginning of the Rio games, when Ryan Lochte came out with his bleached hair, my Ryan asked, “ Am I the only one that finds Ryan Lochte unlikable?” The events surrounding Mr. Lochte and the vandalism in Rio sicken me. What I want Mr. Lochte’s antics to teach my sons is, don’t hang around with bad eggs and Ryan Lochte has proved to be a bad egg. I’m actually sorry for his compadres caught in the madness. . If you look for trouble, you find it.


The Gabby: So social media buried “crabby Gabby”. What an absolute shame. Gabby Douglas won gold for USA in London and did with absolute class. Gabby was a contributing part of the “final five” and mentored and celebrated alike. To Ryan and Sean: be classy and be yourselves. Social media is an unkind, disparate, uninformed jury.  Know who you are and what you contribute, like Gabby, and don't worry about anything else.


The Kerri Walsh- Jennings: Finally, cheers and bravo to Kerri Walsh Jennings. As the most decorated beach volleyball Olympian, she and her partner lost the gold medal round in a shocking upset. Her and her partner admirably battled back to win the bronze medal.  The sound byte I wanted Ryan and Sean to hear after Kerri lost the gold medal match to Brazil was, “I am a blessed woman. This loss makes me no less blessed.”


The Olympic Spirit:  there's nothing like it. I am so pleased to have that spirit so ever present in this back to school season that requires the toughest guts and the hardest hearts. Parents: you belong on a podium for bravery, grit and belief in the “relay team” that will receive your child.

Good night and God Bless!