A few of our cherished readers will not need read past this opening sentence because you are having a perfect summer. For the rest, let me assure you of my ongoing support during the weeks ahead before school starts.
It is possible that you perfectly packed all the things you needed for the beach into your car and forgot nothing. You mentally pat yourself on the back as you pack the kids in the car and head out. This is going to be the perfect beach day. Except for the aforementioned children who are at each other in the backseat the moment you reached Wantagh Parkway. Not to mention the youngest one’s meltdown at the beach. “Why do I put myself through this?” you ask your inner heart.
Perhaps your children hate you right now, but remember that this is a passing thing: they’ll love you again in about three hours. Maybe it’s because you’re insisting on “a little cooperation around here.” What a mean parent you’ve turned out to be. Or maybe it’s because they’re bored and that, naturally, is your fault, even though you’ve offered about 10 suggestions of what they can do with themselves. “Go play in traffic” might not really be a viable option.
Or there’s the summer earache. Or the vomiting. Or the rash. Or the broken wrist. Illnesses know no boundaries, even when you’ve got summertime plans. And these are worse when you’re expected to be the doctor, the nurse, the waiter or waitress, the cleaner, the ambulance driver—and all seemingly without the help of your partner. You feel all alone. And heaven forbid that you get sick. No sympathy coming your way.
Maybe you are a grandparent reading this. You love your grandchildren and can still name all of them and can remember their birthdays. But you are feeling hurt right now because either they are dismissive of you or they are rude. You don’t want them to be selfish, but they show you this side of them that deeply disturbs you. Is this how they are going to turn out in later life?
Is it a parent’s fate to merely endure these little agonies? One thing I do when I feel distressed is to ask the question, “What is one change I can make either in my actions or in my responses to others?” I usually can see something right away. And quite unbelievably, one change changes my distress. The cause of the distress might not go away, but I’m in a different place right then.
For me, prayer works that way. I ask for a bit of divine guidance to see what I can change and almost immediately I see something new. And when I act on what I see, usually by making a small change, I’m better than OK. So I offer this as a simple suggestion for those having a less than perfect summer.