Summer transition brings out the Asperger’s in me. Since I was a child, I have craved clean, beautiful structure. Neatly straightened rooms make me feel calm. I think that I subconsciously challenged myself by becoming a mother to 6 kids and a dog. My house is never clean and calm but full of activity and what my mother, from 3000 miles away, affectionately calls my children’s magic. And Bam! Summer is here and the boys are home all day. All the plans I had beautifully developed have to be put into action.
Recent reading had renewed my determination to combat summer academic corrosion with a homemade summer school. However, as usual, summer hit me like a wall. My grand plans of a time line on the family room wall complete with accompanying reading and journal entries were pushed to the side as transitioning from the structured schedule of the school year to the flexibility of summer days became a reality. I realized that the change in routine is as hard for me as it is for Daniel and our anxiety levels raised side by side. The lack of a beautifully functioning routine made both of us irritable and frustrated. Daniel and I, The Bear and I, Daniel and The Bear, the girls and I, we all began to clash.
It dawned on me, that I was telling my story all wrong. My internal story was that the transition had to go smoothly, like a well oiled machine, if I planned and envisioned the end result. The household, summer academics, trips to G-Wiz – the Science and technology museum and the pool alike would seamlessly fall into place. I told myself that the choice was between perfectly executing these plans and completely abandoning them. My extreme reaction was reminiscent of Daniel’s response to change.
My kids’ story was wrong too. They had told themselves that they deserve the idealized idea of summer. Sleeping in, uninterrupted play, television and computer time, free of anything remotely academic, was their right as red, white and blood blooded American children. The mere suggestion of 30 minutes of daily reading seemed the height of cruelty.
Life is not a well oiled machine. Allergies hit and I stumbled through a couple weeks of stuffy nose, sore throat and a foggy head that interrupted my workouts and my ability to focus as chaos seemed to increase. My husband’s job began to change and the added stress of a possible relocation drew my attention and energy. There were basketball camps and Tae Kwon Do testing and visits from in-laws, and a birthday that I had almost forgotten about. Everything seemed to change all at once.
Neither was life my kids’ idealized dream. Mom required reading and chores. Time in front of the tv and computer was limited.
Ultimately, I began to practically learn how life needs balance and our family has been learning to pull together. Beautifully designed and executed plans are becoming organic rather than mechanical. They grow with our family into a daily ever changing rhythm of chores, messes, food prep, reading, pool trips, timed math drills, playing outside, helping with babies and laundry, trips to the park and computer games – some aimed at strengthening math and geography skills, others that are just for fun. The monthly shopping trip becomes a math and economics lesson as the boys help price compare and keep track of our total.
We are finding that we are enjoying ourselves and learning about ourselves and each other. I am learning to start each day new. If yesterday completely fell apart and the reading didn’t happen, it can still happen today. The important ongoing conversation about life and values and goals and dreams is teaching lessons that never can be taught in school.
Letting go of the rigidity, allows the possibilities to shine. The possible relocation is becoming an exciting adventure, rather than a wrench in the plans. Daniel is reading a chapter book and seeing that with small steps even this seemingly impossible task is possible. The Bear is finding that the internet is not only where he can play computer games but is a great resource for answering his 100 questions a day about the world around him. Miss Alyss is changing quickly and playing more and more with the boys. The Bear has found he enjoys reading to her. The Littlest One is walking and trying to talk. She and Miss Alyss are learning to play together without needing mom every minute of the day.
It is good to feel the frustration and anxiety of transitioning my routine. It reminds me in a small way, of what Daniel feels all the time. I gain compassion and added tools in helping Daniel learn to cope in a ever-transitioning world.