If I am honest I have to admit that in many ways I dread summer. In Texas, where I live, summer means heat – at times sweltering heat. While I do not particularly like the bitter cold of winter, the heat can be downright oppressive. One hundred plus degree days in June, anyone? I guess I am a “highs in the low 70’s, blue skies and gentle breeze all year round” kind of girl.
Summer also means kids, as in all four kids, all day long, every day – or at least that’s how it feels. Only a few years ago, before they were all in school, that didn’t bother me so much, but now it can feel, well, completely overwhelming at times. So the other day I was a little convicted when I was talking with a friend and she told me how excited she was that summer had arrived. Don’t get me wrong, getting to sleep a little bit later and having the option to be lazy all day long is great. But the whining, arguing and the overall opportunity for more conflict among the kids and between me and them – none of that is all that great.
So as summer officially rolled around yesterday, I got to thinking. Why does the arrival of summer bring more dread than joy for me? And then it occurred to me that maybe it has more to do with the fact that summer forces me to practice what I preach a lot more than normal.
Truth is, summer forces me to live out all this stuff I am always talking about to other adoptive and foster parents – seeing my children with eyes of compassion, looking at my children’s needs holistically, building trust and reducing fear by giving voice, connecting while correcting, being a parent that is fully present, being willing to repair my mistakes…and the list goes on. Summer means that my kids and I are together much more, and this serves to remind me that I simply cannot do this on my own. I need help; some days I need a lot of it. So what to do?
I’ve decided to come up with a plan to help turn my dread into joy this summer. I admit it is a simple plan, but those are generally the kind of plans that work best for me. I promise to let you know how it goes for me along the way, and I would love to hear from you too – about your plans and how the summer is going for you.
Here is my simple plan for this summer:
Step 1 – Admit that I don’t have all the answers and that I cannot love my kids the way that I want to or the way that they need me to on my own.
Step 2 – Learn to rely upon God for the strength and patience and understanding and compassion and everything else that I will need each and every day to be the kind of mom He has called me to be. This means that I will need to more committed to spending time in Scripture and in prayer, and be more open to being led by His Spirit.
Step 3 – Refresh myself on the principles and strategies that I know to be so very effective in helping me connect (and stay connected) with my kids. This means instead of watching TV at night maybe I will re-read some of the books that I have found to be helpful or re-watch some of the ETC videos or one of Dr. Purvis’ videos. By being more consistent in applying these principles and strategies, not only will I strengthen my connection with my children, but I will also better reflect God’s love for them.
Step 4 – Turn to others for help. Rather than getting frustrated and discouraged and allowing that to cause me to withdraw and isolate myself, I need to be willing to ask for and accept help – from my husband, my family and my friends.
As a child I vividly remember the joys of summer. I want my kids to experience those same joys, and to be honest I want to experience a new kind of joy this summer myself. So even as the temperatures continue to rise and the “dog days of summer” get closer, I am hopeful that in God’s strength and by following this simple plan this summer will be one filled with joy and connection at the Monroe home.
Amy Monroe writes a regular column – A Mother’s Heart – on the Tapestry blog, where this article originally appeared.