We had big plans for this summer.
As a Type A, list-making, laminating-obsessed goal setter, I’d asked each superhero to set at least one personal goal for the season, and then I’d printed out our family’s list, laminated it and posted it to the fridge, where each day, we could remember just what we wanted to complete before the summer of 2018 ended.
I love hard goals. They give me direction when this easily-distracted girl wants to pursue 50 things at all times. And I love that they give our boys something to work toward. Something to focus on.
Other than Lego ships and light saber fights.
I’d learned through many summers of failure to set just a few big goals for myself instead of 5,431 smaller ones I would never complete and would cry in the corner about not crossing off my list by Labor Day. And this summer, I thought, was the summer I would actually tackle those things that had been on my list for years.
To run daily.
To complete four summer reading books. (And not the kind with pictures of Mickey Mouse and dinosaurs on the front.)
To cherish and make the most of family time.
Simple, fun, easy goals.
But today, on the day that officially marks the end of the summer season, I have to admit that, although I read and I ran, only one of those goals I set for myself did I actually meet.
And although my body and book-lover’s mind could use a bit more TLC, for the first time, I have no regrets about abandoning them for the most important thing I got to enjoy this summer.
This precious team. <3
If I can just be honest, this team sadly doesn’t always get the best of me.
Sometimes, after a day dedicated to lots of people OUTSIDE my home, they get the leftovers.
They get the scraps.
They get the exhausted version of mama who isn’t as engaged, patient, loving or kind as the version who showed up to work and to Bible study and to 50 other places for 50 other commitments before she showed up to love on these boys.
And God put it so clearly on my heart that this summer, and always, they deserved to have the best of me … not the rest of me.
It’s why I took a hiatus from the blog.
It’s why I flew the coop from the Facebook page for the greater part of the season.
And it’s why I’m smiling today as I throw away that only half-completed, laminated list.
Because I think what God, in all His grace, gifted us this summer was so much greater.
We might not have run every day, but for five weeks of summer, we pulled every kid out of bed at 5:20 to meet Superhero 1’s running club at the local park by 5:45. And then, once we got over the grumpiness of sacrificing sleep so our oldest superhero could run, the younger three and I jogged and biked (because Superman, after two years, finally conquered the two-wheeler that had brought him for so long to tears!) as we watched the sun rise over our small town … and met Jesus in a special and intimate way first thing every weekday morning.
Superhero 1 might not have reduced his two-mile time as much as he wanted, but he ran (if only on the treadmill) five days per week and, on the first weekend of summer, completed his first half marathon … 35 minutes faster than his pokey, why-did-no-one-tell-me-this-course-had-hills, nearly-dying mama.
Superhero 2 might not have attended every tae kwon do class he intended to attend. But that determined boy logged 24 teaching hours at his studio, practiced his booty off, earned himself a pair of instructor’s red pants and learned the meaning of dedication … as he’s now on track to take his black belt test four months before his 10th birthday.
Superhero 4, who celebrated one year home last month, may not have learned all his kindergarten basics, and he might still be learning to independently walk, but he did learn how to fish. He did learn how to tube on an oversized inflatable hot dog. He learned how to navigate walkers through mud pits and splash pads, and he learned the names of almost every animal at the local zoo.
And after more backyard bonfires that we can count, he definitely learned the art of the perfect s’more.
I might not have finished four summer reading books, and Superhero 2 definitely did not complete the entire Battle of the Books list, but we read by campfires. We read in tents. We read on beaches. We read on long road trips to meet sweet friends.
We read while sweet fourth superheroes buried our feet in sand.
We read on front porches to the tune of thunderstorms that filled the summer sky.
We read to the younger two superheroes, one of whom actually met his summer goal of finishing 10 small chapter books and is at the beginning stages of a love for reading. (Congratulations, Superman! You are the only one of us who actually met all the goals he set for himself this summer!)
We got to enjoy our team’s love for books when and how we wanted.
And we got to put them down to enjoy the people in our life we love even more.
This summer, we visited friends and family on the coast and in the mountains, in our hometown and in countless cities in between. We played with BFF cousins at the raceway and on the beach, in sweet Southern towns and at baby showers miles away. We celebrated family July 4th reunions with auntie and uncle pool time and nearly-took-Super-Spouse’s-hand-off fireworks, and we stole and decorated one aunt’s dog to enter in a patriotic pet parade when we didn’t have a dog to enter of our own.
We got to spend time with treasured host children and kiddos newly home from China and watch their faces as we went swimming and shark fishing and meteor shower watching late into the night. (Stay tuned to the Facebook page for some great Fun Friday stories to come.)
We filled our 15-passenger van with little people we drug to the lake and to the zoo, out for fishing excursions and out for farm stand ice cream. We sang along with 13 superheroes who shouted Jesus songs on their way to and from summer VBS, and we laughed when we cleaned up puke from the ones who couldn’t take the Mom Beast Bus anymore.
We treasured time with friends — their local lovies and mine.
And we had the privilege of enjoying and entertaining more than 30 different visitors we hosted this summer in our home, and the card games and Nerf wars and Cosmic yoga sessions and late-night charades play that resulted when we crammed two to five extra kiddos at a time into a house full of boys made for memories that will last a lifetime.
At the end of this, my favorite summer with the boys thus far, I’m not sad that we left so much undone.
Because the kayaking and the hiking and the mudpie making and the lazy summer days spent splashing with brothers at Grandma and Pop’s pool built something greater than an impressive summer reading log or a larger vocabulary.
They built memories.
They built relationship.
They built bonds that no amount of running or reading ever could.
Thank you, God, for gifting us with the greater things this summer.