The county fair is always a week or two before the kids have to head back to school and it has always felt like a welcome “unofficial end of summer”. The weeks following the fair are devoted to wrapping up sweet corn season and getting the kids ready to head back to school, and I am in what my husband refers to as “pre-fall mode”.
I am 100% ready for summer to be over with.
I recently shared a funny little meme on facebook (below) about being excited about fall, and a “friend” commented that she was sad for me because there is so much I don’t understand, and I shouldn’t rush the 18 summers I have with my kids, I should “celebrate and enjoy every minute”.
If you haven’t yet seen the 18 Summers posts, it was super popular in late spring and early summer, the author urges parents to make the most of every second of summer, because she fears she will shed “tears of remorse for knowing that I could have done better” if she doesn’t.
Here’s the thing I am tired, it has been a long summer, and I am honestly sick of hearing about the 18 summers you have with your kids. And if I am going to cut straight to the point, I am looking forward to the fall so I can spend more meaningful quality time with my kids, but there’s more.
I normally let comments like this roll, but if I am going to be judged on looking forward to a new season I’d like to present the full picture of exactly what my summer looks like.
I think in general around town there has always been some confusion about my role. If you were to ask me what I do I generally respond “stay at home mom” which is probably vague at best, but when you start talking about farmer’s wife/corn delivery person/blogger people’s eyes start to glaze over. Maybe the woman who responded to my Facebook meme imagines I spend some of my day doing housework, and the rest floating on a raft in a pool all summer.
Our summers are not long lazy days, full of relaxation, fun, and a general break from the grind of the school year.
I don’t think I have ever really written in detail about corn season, in fact, I tend not to blog much at all while we are harvesting sweet corn. Maybe it is because I just go into survival mode, moving from one urgent task to the next, and I don’t deal well with living in a constant state of reaction, so I just keep my head down and focus on getting through the 6 weeks known as sweet corn season.
A lot of people I talk to don’t realize sweet corn needs to be picked daily, by hand. Yes, there are machines that will pick all the corn in a field, but it would have to be sorted and there would be a lot of loss. To give you an idea of how, right now we typically will walk by 3-4 ears of corn before we find one that is ready to pick. Picking generally takes 1-2 hours a day.
The leaves of the corn plant are abrasive, and many sweet corn varieties are very short compared to field corn, which puts the pollen loaded tassel right at face level, which makes for itchy noses, and lots of sneezes if you are allergy prone. Ideally, everyone should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants during picking, but it has been so hot even the thought of the extra layer seems suffocating, and often I leave the corn lot with inflamed and itchy arms from constantly rubbing against corn leaves. Occasionally, I opt-out of picking, because I am prone to migraines and heat and dehydration are definitely triggers for me, but it is not often. Because, despite the discomforts, it allows me to spend time with my husband. If I wasn’t out in the field with him, I’d never see him!
Then there is the counting and boxing, which isn’t horrible if I am being honest. We use repurposed banana boxes that we collect from local grocery stores, and count 5 dozen into each box, they probably weigh 50 lbs each. We also sort the corn, some of the newer supersweet varieties of sweet corn get HUGE and some people mistake it for overly mature corn, especially if it is mixed in a box with a variety that doesn’t get as big. This also generally take 1-2 hours a day.
And then there is delivery. My own little realm of the corn production cycle. I’m not sure exactly how this landed in my lap, but there it sits. Like any other job, there are challenges and rewards. I enjoy getting out and chatting with local business owners, but the boxes of corn are heavy and the season is long, and it this point I have been doing it for 4 weeks, and am ready to be done with being in a truck for 3 hours a day.
I have a couple of hours in the late afternoon when I frantically run around the house and trying maintain some level of order and cleanliness, and prepare a dinner we will generally eat around 9 to 9:30 pm.
The kids help out with picking and counting and boxing corn, but they also have their own activities and interests. Softball and Baseball are my kid’s sports of choice and they play and practice year round. So, I am also shuttling my kids around to their sports activities, which are most evenings.
I am not whining or complaining, my summer is challenging that is just life on a farm.
This is the time of the year I get run down, and tired. Me and my kids are ready for a change of pace, and that is okay.
What 18 Summers is Missing
Here’s the thing, the 18 Summers article may serve as a needed reminder for some parents. I am sure it was written to remind moms to savor the summers we have with their children while those children are officially living under their roof. It’s meant to make us appreciate what we have now, to make us soak in and savor it all. But there is a lot 18 Summers doesn’t take into account or is missing.
18 Summers was written in fear of what we as parents are “losing”
We are very very close to my oldest’s 18th summer (2 years away now), and here is what I know: If I don’t mess up my relationships with my kids, none of them will be walking out the door on their 18th birthday and never returning. I see my relationship with my daughter moving to a more adult relationship and friendship, and I am by no means wishing away my kid’s childhood, but I am not living in fear of what I am losing, I AM looking forward to what’s ahead as our seasons change and relationship matures.
18 Summers doesn’t take into account that every family’s seasons of life are different.
What if you just didn’t have time to do it all? Or energy? What if you work? What if you’re sick? What if your kids are sick?
What if you are too bogged down with chores and other adult responsibilities to summon up the energy to go to the beach to build sand castles? Will I be looking back on those days with regret and sadness?
It’s a simple fact of life that not all of us have the luxury of being able to stay at home and soak up every last precious moment with our kids during the summer, whether we like it or not.
Let’s Stop with the Mom Shaming
I was really rubbed the wrong way with the comment on the Facebook meme, and I think maybe it was because there was that implication of “You are NOT DOING ENOUGH, TIME IS SLIPPING AWAY, AND YOU ARE FAILING.”
We Are All Doing Our Best.
Look, the last thing any Mom needs is Mom Shaming. ALL the moms I know give. Often giving so much of themselves to others there is nothing left for themselves.
Yes, you should savor every moment with your kids. Savor the 18 summers and all the falls, winters, and springs, holidays, and birthdays in between them.
But if you are in a more challenging season of life, cut your self some slack.
Love your kids as best you can in whatever season of life you are in.
Be intentional in the day-to-day, but don’t let a timeline create guilt or steal your mothering joy.
I promise you’re doing a really great job.