My Summer Mantra


I had visions of summer bliss, I’m not going to lie. I imagined hanging out with my boys (ages 15 and just 12) in a plethora of excitement. I envisioned laughter and memories simultaneously bundled up in little To Go boxes for safekeeping. This summer (though not actually distinguishable from any other) would be “Extra Special”, one we’d never forget. One good time right after another.

That came to a screeching halt.

About a week into summer.

The thing is, what looks good on paper and dances around in your mind, is not always exactly what ends up transpiring.

No matter how much you want it to.

My plans didn’t just deteriorate into thin air. It was a gradual agony. The kind where things go from bad to worse before you’ve actually realized–or admitted–that it has all spiraled out of control and taken on a life if its own.

And it all started with me asking these three little words: “Could you please…

(Plug in any chore)….

          empty the dishwasher….”

                                     take out the trash….”

                                                           mow the lawn…..”

mowing the lawn

The responses went as follows with translations in ( ) :

“In a minute.” (There may be good intentions with this response but they are soon forgotten)

“Mom, I will.” (Mom, you reminding me is annoying me and making me never want to do anything)

“Mom.I know. ” (I’m sticking my feet in the mud and not doing it any time soon)

“Make him do it.” (Passing the buck to brother)

I did it last time!” (Avoiding personal responsibility)

“I always do it.” (Not gonna happen)

“I’ll do it tomorrow.” (Not gonna happen EVER)

It generally takes about two seconds after the last comment for me to go berserk and start into my diatribe about being a single mother and having to DO.IT.ALL.

♫  ♪ ♪ ♪ ♫ Insert Patsy Cline singing I Fall to Pieces ♫ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♫ ♫ ♪ ♪ ♪

It didn’t take long for the constant stream of friends coming over to add up to One Big Giant Mess that someone inevitably was going to have to clean up, and by golly, it wasn’t going to be me. (Granted, my timeline on this event transpiring differed greatly from the boys’ opinion on the matter.)

And that’s when I had to pull out the Big Guns that were tucked away in my apron, careful not  to burn myself on the hot stove I was slaving away over.

Ready. Aim. Fire.

My artillery included some awesome examples of two parent households where the kids do more chores in a week than mine do in a year, sprinkled with ever so slight amounts of

Would Jesus treat his mother this way?


and for good measure…..


which became our new Summer Mantra.

And then, one day I realized I held the trump card in my tightly clenched fist. The deal is, I wasn’t really included in my sons’ summer plans unless I was a catalyst in getting them to one of their activities. It turns out motivation quickly becomes paramount when someone needs a ride somewhere or money is required for an activity. And with the tables turned, our conversations went something like this:

“Mom, can you… (plug in any dire need)

            take me to the roller rink”

                             give me money for the movies”

pick up so and so.”

And my responses went as follows with translations in ( ) :

“In a minute.” (Karma!)

“I will if you ask nicely.” (We mustn’t forget “please” in our sentences)

When you finish your chores.” (It’s all about give and take)

“Can’t you ask so and so’s mom?” (Passing the buck)

I took you last time!” (Avoiding personal responsibility; c’mon, we ALL do it)

“Maybe” (Not gonna happen)

“We’ll see…” (Not gonna happen EVER)

So in the end, the moral of the story is what goes around inevitably comes around and sometimes it’s best to just throw in the dish towel because it all works out in the end and summer doesn’t last forever.  (This said with the full confidence of having school supply shopping and registration behind me!)


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