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Summer is in full bloom.  I had been waiting for this because I was looking forward to the more relaxed schedule.

No waking up to an automated alarm.  No scurrying in the morning to make breakfast, prepare lunches, and take my daughters to school.  No being mindful of the time in the early afternoon as to ensure on time pick up from school. No soccer practice nor weekday church activities.  My daughters and I are together all day long with no particular place to go.  We can do as we please, whenever we desire.  Stellar!

I forgot about the first week or two being almost hell.

As much as the early mornings, allotted time and afternoon pick-ups begin to grind on me towards the end of the school year, the routine does provide regularity.  For most of the days, each of my daughters is in her own world at her respective school; and I have my own little oasis of writing and quiet.  We are together at home for only three or four hours until my husband comes home from work. Our family evenings consist of eating dinner together, reading, and going to bed.  The next day we get up and do it all over again.

My girls love the laissez-faire way that our family does summer.  They wake up each morning and squeal with glee, “What are we going to do today, Mama?” Sometimes I play the role of cruise director and roll out my plan, activity by activity.  Other times I’ll open the floor to all ideas, and we enjoy the teamwork of planning our day together.  It’s not the irregularity that gets to me.  (Although I do understand that it potentially affects my children.)

It’s the fact that my girls and I are together…all day long…just the three of us…through the fun and silly times, the cranky and bad attitude times, and the times when it seems the clock isn’t moving.

After what I realize now to be relative smooth sailing through our 3-4 hours together during the school year, I forget that it takes us a while to get used to being constantly in one another’s company again.  For the first week or so we get on one another’s nerves more easily than we do in July and August.  The girls fight more and implore for my help ad nauseum.  Or at least it seems like it.  By the end of the day I’m ready for an adult beverage or a padded room…or both.

(One time my best friend expressed exasperation with her kids in a way that cracked me up because I could totally relate.  After being alone with her kids all day long she tired of hearing her name called. Mom!  Mommy! Mama!  She said, “I’m gonna change my name and not tell anybody what the new one is.” You got that right, sister!)

Deep breath in…deep breath out…

I don’t think my pastor’s sermon a couple of Sundays ago could have been timed any better.  She kicked off our church’s summer sermon series, which is on the fruit of the spirit, with a sermon on love.  While she mentioned several biblical texts, she anchored her sermon in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-10a.  She emphasized that love does not come naturally for humans all of the time, each and every day.  Love is something that, with God’s help, we must choose to do.  Put this text somewhere that you know you’ll see it within your home, and read it each day this week, she said.  This will help you when times get tough, and remind you that you do have a choice.  You can choose to love.

Love never gives up.  How many times have I already given up hope just this week that my girls will ever follow my instructions?
Love cares more for others than for self.   How often have I already not listened to what my girls have to say because I think I have a better idea?
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.  Why must I always be in control?
Love doesn’t strut,    Why must I sometimes pour salt into their wounds when they make a decision contrary to my advice and I am proven right?
Doesn’t have a swelled head,   What would happen if I behaved first as a daughter of God and as Mom-and-in-charge second?
Doesn’t force itself on others,  See above about always being in control 
Isn’t always “me first,”    Perhaps I should play with my daughters first and get my housework done (which will always be present) at another time every now and then.
Doesn’t fly off the handle,   Not much more to say here…ugh…
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,  Sentences that begin with “remember that time when you…” and are meant to sting need to be reworked and said differently.
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,   I need to remember how much it can take out of a person to apologize sometimes.  My daughters are people, too.
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,   When my children have the courage to tell me the truth when they have erred, I want to rejoice in that truth, focus on the lesson, and avoid shaming them.
Puts up with anything,    Need some serious work in this area…yeah…
Trusts God always,    Could do this more…
Always looks for the best,  With God’s help, I can…
Never looks back,    Same thing as not keeping score in my book…
But keeps going to the end.  Even when I’m tired, and my children are tired, and we’re tired of each other…
Love never dies.  Praise the Lord!
(1 Cor 13:1-10a The Message)

It has taken me a long time not to be satisfied with merely “getting through” or “surviving” life.  Just three short years ago I would have said something to the effect of, “All we need to do is get through these first couple of bumpy weeks, and summer will be fun and smooth sailing.” I’ve learned that this is hogwash (for several reasons).  Each day that God gives us is an absolute gift and treasure, not something to “get through”.  Even each day during the first two weeks of summer at home with my girls.  

Scratch that.  These days that the three of us have together are especially precious simply because God has given them to us.  And I choose to love these days, as I choose to love my daughters ala 1 Corinthians 13. 

I’ll just have to dig in a little deeper when the whining starts.