The Mid-Summer Doldrums


It’s the mid-life crisis of summer.

On one hand, I can’t believe the middle of summer is here. Summertime is already half finished. What?!?! On the other hand, I’m not sure I’m going to make it until August 21 . . . and all of this has me quite taken aback. I expected to be the mom who loved every minute of having her kiddo home all day. Thus, the mid-summer doldrums took me by surprise.

This is my first summer having a kiddo “home from school” as my eldest just wrapped up her kindergarten year. I’d heard about rough transitions and cat calls of “bored” and “nothing to do,” but never experienced it because, for the most part, the little years were not too “scheduled,” so summer was not that much of a break in routine for us.

What has my head and heart all in a tizzy is this: I bought into the hope and dream of my very own version of an idyllic summer. For me this vision included a six year old ready to relax, take advantage of time with little sister, eager to explore toys untouched for months, behavior similar to the school year. Was this my reality? No. What I got was a six year old desperately looking for minute-by-minute structure; a young girl expressing her difficulties with the change through grumpiness and arguing; a big sister who wanted to boss, not play with her younger counterpart; a child intent on bedtime being her mea culpa of dramatic expression. And this crushed my picture of out-of-school summer.

Let me be clear: The fault here is not my daughter’s; it’s mine.

woman sad looking up, depressed, thinking
Photo by Eunice Lituañas on Unsplash

Like Mother’s Day and my birthday and all holidays and, well, vacations, I now realize summer will not meet my expectations . . . or the expectations that Pinterest puts in front of me (or Facebook or Instagram . . .). So, when I was standing at my kitchen sink last week, realizing I, myself, was becoming cranky and bossy and dramatic, I asked myself why. That’s when I realized I had a case of the mid-summer doldrums — discontent and disappointed about how the summer was turning out, and bummed that I didn’t have enough time to turn it around. It wasn’t going my way.

I’d love to be the mom who says, “Just don’t have any expectations; that’s the answer,” but I know such an admonition is ridiculous. We all have expectations about everything. No matter what summertime expectation is not being met for you, my consolation is this: The cure for the doldrums is to accept your summer for what it is, your kiddos for whom they are, and give yourself grace to admit you may be disappointed with how it all turned out — how hard it really ended up being.

My six-year-old sweetie needs a mama who is steady — steady through the arguing, steady in the rules, steady in providing fun, and steady in allowing stretches of boredom. She needs this in the summer and the months that follow. I’m kicking myself in my 5-inch inseam shorts for not focusing on this sooner. No more doldrums; no more discontent. Who’s with me?

We will get this all figured out and settled juuuuuust in time for the transition back to school. 😉


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