Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

To the mom who is NOT counting down the days to summer vacation. I feel you. 

It’s that time of year again. Teachers are counting down the days until summer vacation. Parents are overwhelmed with the rush of end of school activities. Summer camp fliers are appearing in my son’s backpack in droves as the school year winds down. And some kids are already enjoying the taste of freedom that summer vacation brings. 

So many of my friends with older kids are DONE. They are SO ready for their kids to be on summer break. They can’t wait to start enjoying the next few months where life will be slower-paced, piles of homework can take a backseat for a while, and they don’t have to worry about classroom snacks, permission slips, and the like. 

I have no doubt there will come a time in the not so distant future when, I too, will be one of these parents. Before I know it, I will be googling how to help with math homework because I no longer understand it, and we will be knee-deep in science fair projects, field trips, and music concerts. I am sure there will come a time when I am counting down the days until summer vacation, because it will truly feel like a break from the crazy pace that the school year brings. 

But honestly? I’m just not there yet. Am I looking forward to summer vacation? Not really. Because things are about to get a lot harder, not easier. And I’m convinced that I’m not the only parent who feels this way. 

I’ve been staying at home full-time for almost four years. I realize it’s a path I have chosen for myself, and I feel lucky to be able to make that choice. I don’t think I will ever regret staying at home with my kids, and I will be forever grateful for the time I have been able to spend with them. But staying-at-home full-time is also really, really, hard. And in the parenting stage that I’m currently in, summer vacation seems to magnify the hard.  

My oldest puts me through my paces. He makes me question my parenting ability and the choices I have made. We are a lot alike, and therefore, we butt heads on a fairly regular basis. My nightstand is piled high with parenting books because I’m constantly trying to figure out how I can best meet his needs. I still have so much to learn! Sometimes we just need time away from each other in order to “reset.” I truly believe our relationship is stronger and more positive when we don’t spend every waking moment together. In the summer, that time away can be harder to come by, and we struggle more than usual. 

My youngest started preschool this past fall, and his class meets five hours a week. In the grand scheme of things, five hours is not much, but it is five dedicated hours each week that I have been able to step out of my mom role. This past school year, I have been able to reclaim some of those things that have gotten lost in the shuffle. Those five hours have been spent refilling my own cup, so I’m better able to pour myself into my children. Soon, those five hours will be going away, and oh, how I will miss that time over the next few months! 

My boys are also at the age where they argue like it is their full-time job with bonus checks offered for extra effort. Normal behavior between two siblings? Probably. But it drives me absolutely bonkers. And after being around each other 24/7 day after day they start to drive each other bonkers, too. I think they also benefit from time away from each other.  

I try to take advantage of babysitters as I am able to. I make it a point to carve out time that each of my boys can spend with just me or my husband. That certainly helps. But during these long summer months, I find myself more cranky and tired than usual, my patience tested to the max. I feel guilty on the days I allow too much screen time, yet there are some days I just need that extra time to retreat for a while and re-center myself. I feel the need to provide my children with loads of entertainment, yet I also know there is so much good that can come out of times of boredom, even if that ramps of the complaining. Summer seems to magnify the mom guilt and my own feelings of inadequacy.  

Don’t get me wrong, there are positive aspects of summer vacation, too. I love taking my boys to baseball games, spending time outside, barbeques and park dates, and playing in the water. I am determined to make this summer a good one, even if it isn’t easy. I hope when school is back in session in September, we will have a bucketful of fun summer memories to look back upon. But when that “Welcome back to school” letter arrives in the mail in late August, I will probably be doing a little celebratory dance and breathing a sigh of relief. And I suspect there might be a few other mamas doing a happy dance as well. 

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Mary Ann Blair

Mary Ann Blair is a stay-at-home mom living in the Pacific Northwest with her two little gentlemen and hubs. She loves connecting with other parents who like to keep it real! Her work has been published on Her View From Home, Motherly, A Fine Parent, Perfection Pending, That’s Inappropriate, Pregnant Chicken, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Red Tricycle and in Chicken Soup For the Soul. She can be found at maryannblair.com or on Facebook at Mary Ann Blair, Writer.

I Promise to Show Up for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in garden

My child, I hope you know you can count on this: I will show up for you. I will show up when you wake in the middle of the night, when you get up too early or stay up too late. I will be there to make your meals, read you a story, and tuck you into bed. I will show up when you are sick—taking time off work, bringing you to the doctor, cleaning up your throw-up, and sitting up with you. I will show up at every game, sitting in the stands or a camp chair, freezing or...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading

I’m in the Big Little Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
black and white photo of little boy and little girl standing in a window together

I’m in the big little years. It’s when you’re no longer in the tender season of babies and toddlers—those sweet, smothering, exhausting years of being constantly touched and needed . . . . . . but you’re not yet in the big kid years—navigating boyfriends and driver’s licenses and bracing your heart for the impending ache of an empty nest. I’m somewhere in between. I’m in the years of having littles that aren’t so little anymore, but still need you for so much. They have big feelings. Big ideas. Big dreams. But they have mostly little problems (even though they...

Keep Reading

1-Year-Olds Are Wonderful

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
1 year old baby smiling

Newborns—who doesn’t love them?  The captivating scent of a brand new baby, their fragile little bodies laying so delicately on your chest. Everything that comes with a newborn baby is just absolute magic. But have you ever had a 1-year-old? I used to think the newborn phase was my favorite, nothing could ever be better than having such a tiny helpless little human rely on you for absolutely everything. I could hold my newborn for hours, soaking in every tiny little detail before it became nothing but a beautifully distant memory. But I’ve realized it’s 1-year-olds who have a special...

Keep Reading

My Kids Are All in School Now and It’s a Little Lonely

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman looking out window alone

I had just dropped my children off at school. All of them. My youngest has just started full-time. It was my first full day on my own since she began, and I had really been looking forward to it, so I took myself into town to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee. Just me. The kind of days dreams are made of, right? I could suddenly breathe again.  I only had myself to answer to.  I got my latte and something to eat. And then I cried.  My eyes filled with tears as I sat in the...

Keep Reading

I Love You Even When I Say I Don’t

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter touch foreheads

“I love you even when I say I don’t.” These words came out of nowhere from my 5-year-old. I was standing in the bathroom with her (we still don’t like to go potty without mommy standing right there), and she wouldn’t look at me while talking to me. You see, my 5-year-old and I have been in more spouts than ever before. She’s found this new attitude in her first couple months of kindergarten, coming home with new phrases including, “No, I don’t want to–you do it.” It hurts my heart, makes me frustrated, and leaves me asking myself where...

Keep Reading

Big Questions at Bedtime Don’t Require Perfect Answers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child at bedtime

Last night at bedtime, my son asked why everyone has to die one day. The thought of my sweet 7-year-old grappling with the weight of such a question hurt my heart. He looked so small tucked under a fleece blanket, clutching his favorite stuffed panda. How could the same little boy who just started second grade wearing a space backpack stuffed with bright, wide-ruled notebooks ask such a thing?  Perhaps my children are more aware of the inevitability of death than other kids their age due to the passing of various family pets over the past few years, or perhaps...

Keep Reading

If Someone Needs a Friend, Be a Friend

In: Friendship, Kids, Motherhood
Three kids with backpacks, color photo

“If someone needs a friend, be a friend” it’s the running joke in our family. My husband will say the phrase to our four kids when discussing certain life situations in a lovingly mocking type way. They’ll all look at me and chuckle. I giggle a little myself at the corniness of it. But I always add, “It’s true.” It’s a phrase I’ve used more times than I can count. To teach them all to be includers—the kind of kids who look for the kid having a bad day and seek to brighten it, the kind of kids who stand...

Keep Reading