Lessons from THE summer list

Ah…the ol’e blog.  It’s been so long since I’ve sat down and put words to my thoughts.  At least its been a long time since I’ve done it publicly.  There have been pages and pages of emotions spilled in blue and black ink, oozing all over my journals as I’ve processed this summer. Scattered throughout this post are photos of our summer.  Everyone looks happy and content, all appears to be so well!

I started out the summer with such hope.  I had energy and excitement – even made a “Summer List” and posted in on the wall.  It fell down during the night – an unfortunate omen I did not heed.


We had a plan for everyone – Desta was at camp and then summer school, Tobin was in sports and Caroline was traveling the world.  I had learned my lessons from last summer – I was committed to being “the best flexible” mom this summer. I was going to work in the yard, transform the dirt into beauty.  My garden would feed us all winter long and the deck would FINALLY be pressure washed.  We were going to hike and camp, exploring Colorado as one big happy family.  Every night we’d fish in the nearby reservoir and I’d finally be 100% vigilant with gluten-free living.

Goals are good.  Heck, they are necessary.  However, I overestimated what could be done this summer.

There were so many moments of raging and screaming.  I am actually surprised our neighbors did not call child protective services as it sounded like war happening in our home on a daily basis.  As soon as the screaming commenced, I’d yell “Get the windows” as we frantically sprinted around the house slamming windows shut (thank God for air conditioning!) Camping trips happened and for the most part, were successful.  However, we learned the hard way that while the idea of taking a pogo stick to a campground SEEMS like a good idea, it’s really not – at least not at 5 am in the morning.


We checked off that dang list.  Yep, we sure did!  But I have to admit that as the summer wore on, I hid the list.  Root beer floats meant hyperactive manic behavior until late at night.  Movie nights resulted in fights about “Not another Disney movie again…” Music nights in the park – was I high when I made this list?  There was no way our family could sit quietly for 5 minutes, let alone a concert with people around!

By July, I was DONE.  DONE with summer, DONE with being fun mom and most definitely DONE with being go with the flow mommy.


Then one day I got a single text from Caroline.  A friend from camp last year had committed suicide.  I knew this beautiful soul.  I had met her and her family, saw them interact just like our family interacts. This lovely girl had an 8-year-old brother adopted from Ethiopia too.  All of a sudden, my “DONE” turned into deep grief.

How could she end her life?  Why did she end her life?  Her parents – dear God, her parents and brothers – how can you possibly recover from that? For almost 3 weeks I walked around so deeply wounded.  I found myself crying in the car, overwhelmed with such deep sadness for this family

Over the past two weeks, I’ve made some realizations.

  • While the summer list is good and can be fun, I made it so important that I forgot why I wrote it in the first place.  I had wanted to create fun memories with my kids.  That was the goal – not crossing off activities for the sake of completing them.


  • We never know what life will bring.  Rather than retreating when the raging and anxiety reaches maximum levels, I need to lean in.  Each of us has a unique way of dealing with life.  I can’t flee when I need to be present.


  • It’s okay to grieve and be sad. I had to sit in that sadness for Gillian and her family. I allowed myself to feel it and it was horrible.  Yet, each time I sat and cried for her family, I prayed for them, putting their deep grief before the throne of God, asking for a miracle…the miracle to continue on.


  • Feelings are okay.  While I can’t walk around and declare my wounds to the entire world, I need to be okay with being more vulnerable. We are designed to live in community with others. How can we experience any real emotions if we try to manage them alone?


I did not make a list for fall fun.  I did not have goals for school.  In fact, I was sick in bed for the first 3 days of school – some weird stomach ailment that made me just STOP in my tracks and rest.  I didn’t write the cute notes, have signs for my kids to hold or even make “back to school” treats.  Instead, I have just shown up.  I sit in the car line and when my kids get in, I’m present. I’m working hard to leave my phone on silent when we are home.  I’m trying my darndest to be present.  While my present isn’t always happy and up beat, it’s authentic and real.


If we want to bring hope to the world, we need to start at home – the hardest place, in my opinion.

One thought on “Lessons from THE summer list

  1. You could NOT be more real and special or real. Too many people are putting up a front to portray “perfection” and not authenticity. We aren’t energized bubnies and we DO get tired. And frustrated. And hurt. And sad. Thank you for taking time to organize, write and share your back reality – I am certain you blessed someone. Love you, girl!


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