Stress fills my days and nights lately. I have random headaches, my sleep is off, and the tension in my back is a gripping pain that just never seems to let up.
I have always been a person who takes the weight of the world on their shoulders. Some people call it being an empath, while others call it being “too sensitive”. I look it at as a person who feels a lot and evaluates everything. I tend to turn over scenario after scenario in my head, doing all I can to make the best decisions to avoid a negative outcome.
However the past few weeks and months have presented me with a big challenge. These current circumstances are different. These situations being thrown at us are what we call unprecedented and unchartered. Evaluating isn’t really an option.
Now I don’t have to tell you that there is a lot going on in the world right now. We are dealing with a powerful virus that is changing our life structure, and literally killing people off in horrific ways. We also have a political environment that makes me feel like I am in an episode of Parks and Rec, where the satiric political plot lines are actually real, and at times, far worse than any writer could have scripted.
I stress because these are situations worth stressing over. Our future is uncertain. Our choices are never good enough.
We are currently on a deadline in my school district for making decisions on our children’s schooling. Although our decision is made for both of our children, the relentless second guessing plagues me. The thought of doing something wrong or choosing the wrong option hangs over me like a dark cloud of regret.
I can literally feel it every day.
And this regrets isn’t reserved just for school. It travels over to the rare outdoor play-dates I schedule or even the socially distanced porch wine with friends. It hangs in the background every single time we see my parents or my in-laws, and I often wonder if this is the time where we pass this virus to the ones we love most.
Then the other day my 6 year old asked me a question. It was a statement that made my already fried emotions short circuit.
She simply asked me, “Mommy is it still summer right now?”
I know, I know - the question seems simple. Yet it broke my heart straight down the middle to think that she wasn’t sure what time of year it was. That she had no concept that her summer was still very much live and in-action.
I remember being her age and finding summer to be the most amazing time of the year. With all of the sweaty outside play for hours at a time, just soaking in the sun, running barefoot and enjoying every minute of freedom. I never asked my Mom if it was still summer.
I just knew it was summer. I could feel it.
So it was in this moment that I realized that this virus, these “no right” decisions, were all taking away our summer. They were taking away our ability to have fun and be present.
Over the past several weeks I had lost my excitement over summer activities with my kids. I was stuck in my own brain so much that I forgot that summer was about adventure and experiences. That at 6 years old my daughter should be exploring her likes and dislikes and learning more about herself.
I had allowed all of this craziness to not only take away her friends, trips and summer activities, but it had also let it take ME away from her. This stressed out mom was not there to make her summer fun, she was there (in many ways) bringing it down. I was masking the beautiful summer sun shining outside, and had covered it with screens and a cloud of stress.
So the very next day I took off work and spent the day outside doing things that she loved. We drew with chalk, we jumped on the trampoline, we went on hike, we had an outdoor picnic, we played card games and several rounds of hide & seek. We ended the day in the pool with a little game of “daddy shark” and laughed our way into dinner.
It was truly an amazing day. It was a kind of day she was meant to have during her summer off from school. It was a day she absolutely deserved.
Now I do know every day can’t be sunshine and roses. We are living in an unpredictable world that seems to shift and change daily. However I know I can do a better job at making the end of her summer a priority.
I actually must do a better job of letting the chaos of the world remain outside of our front door, and find ways to take back the this summer for the both of us.
I think we both need some summer freedom...now more than ever.