Ahh sweet Summer memories...this year has put quite a twist on any memories. For our family, it felt like Summer essentially began in mid-March when the kid’s schools closed for COVID. Although we tried to stick with the programming our country sent home, the plans didn’t really work for my family.
With a background in special education, I was ready to improvise and try to keep our family moving in a positive direction. We began adding special things to our day to help each day feel different from before. We worked on some school and some character building. We tried to learn to love the people in our house really well. While some of those things were easier than others, we made the days pass until school was “officially” over as best we could.
IT HAS BEEN A RELIEF TO GIVE A CLOSE TO THE 2019-2020 SCHOOL YEAR AND STEP INTO TRUE “SUMMER MODE”.
My family has never been one to plan a typical week long vacation during the summer but rather take advantage of smaller opportunities as they come up and fit with the needs of the kids. We found so often in the past, planning a week long vacation never came at a good time. With the anticipation of the trip, challenging behaviors swelled and thoughts and doubts like “This is not going to be a vacation at all!”, “What was I thinking?” filled my mind and heart. We would walk into those vacations stressed and trying to calm an overstimulated/excited kid. On top of that, we often had a sick kid. My daughter seemed to be often sick and always right before our trips. Needless to say, it was not a good memory for my husband and me, let alone the kids.
While we have escaped illness through building her immune system and more likely limiting contact with COVID concerns, advance planning and long trips just doesn’t work for our family. We have settled into the spontaneity of short trips and day visits that work well for us. The difficult part for me is fighting the comparison of other people’s experiences. I can often lose myself in the pictures and narratives people post of their vacations. While a picture is only capturing a moment and most of the time only the best moments, I can still be tricked by someone else’s experience, thinking mine is insufficient in some way.
Since “Summer” abruptly began for us in March, we began a paper chain of good things from our day. The idea at the time was I wanted and needed a way to know when life would go back to a normal rhythm. I wanted to know when the bus was coming back down my street. I wanted to know when I would have my 2 hours to breathe and run my errands, squeeze in a work call and brush my teeth before noon! Since that was a big unknown and still is, I wanted to mark each day with a positive by adding links to a paper chain.
The kids and my husband got into the idea and each night at dinner we add a paper link to mark a happy memory from our wacky day. There was always something to add. We have continued with this each evening adding different color links to mark the happy memories amidst the blur of days that drag on. Each day still feels like a tiring Saturday in which my husband and I are trying to work and nurture children. In the middle of this grind, we are able to intentionally acknowledge the good things with our children. The paper link helps each of us look for the happy and still anticipate the future with joy. My middle daughter asked the other night if we could decorate the Christmas tree with the paper links. We are 5 months away from Christmas, but she is already looking forward to it. For me, thinking ahead to Christmas reminds me of the ground we have already covered and the challenges we have overcome with so much change and unknown in our life all at once.
REFLECTING ON THE TIME AND MEMORIES CAPTURED IN THESE LINKS GIVES SUCH A POSITIVE VIEW OF WHAT WE HAVE GONE THROUGH AND A HOPEFUL OUTLOOK FOR THE COMING MONTHS.
This summer is off to a good start for our family. We are sneaking quick trips in between virtual summer school and tele-therapy sessions. The great joy comes at the end of the day when I get to hear what part of the day was remarkable for one of the kids or my husband. We have added links saying “swimming” in the spout pool, berry picking, finished the first chapter book alone, took off training wheels, beautiful sunset and someone even added time as a family…
Written by Naomi Brubaker