The Summer of Grace for the Work From Home Mama

Today is the first day of summer in our house. Not only is school out, but we live in Phoenix - the land of the 120 degree summer. Granted, today was only 101. Phew.

Summers are unbearable. Life doesn't stop just because it's a toaster oven outside the door (and inside the car). Groceries must still be purchased, Target must still be perused, Chiropractic adjustments, Costco, Ulta, sports practice, church and classes to teach. These things still happen. As much as we want to hide in the air conditioning, ice water always within reach, ain't no one gonna spend three months holed up in a house with THREE CHILDREN. Because you know what else still happens? Kids still fight, and whine, and make horrible, weird messes. Those things still happen too.

For the sake of all that is SANE, we must still embrace the world outside of our cool havens.

But there's more. Some of us work from home. Some of us have had months of one child (or none) playing quietly with their dollhouse most of the day, only stopping to ask us to turn on the TV or make them a snack. Some of us have JUST learned to balance working from home effectively. And now there is full-blown summer chaos, late nights, and still a full inbox, stupidly long to-do list and a slowly rising panic warring with the ever-present mommy-guilt.

How does a work from home mama whittle down her list without neglecting her kids? I'm writing this to you from a moment of panic, holed up in my room while my kids watch My Little Pony for the one billionth time after a long day of shopping, doling out consequences for dragging Daisy across the floor of Ulta by her feet, climbing to the top of the chiropractor's adjusting table before I could catch him, and praying that my waxing girl still let's me book an appointment after the debacle that took place this afternoon. Lord, have mercy on DAY ONE OF SUMMER BREAK.

But there's this. God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of GRACE. It is an overflowing waterfall of "Cool it, sister. Everything will work itself out." Guess what? I will absolutely not win any Pinterest awards this summer. We won't be building a pirate ship in the backyard, hosting elaborate parties for friends, having an arts and crafts afternoon, or spending weekends at the waterpark. At best, we'll run away to the beach for a few days, wine in hand. Maybe we'll devote a single Saturday to a hot, germy waterpark so we can indulge in old nachos and slide down colorful waterslides with a million other people. Its possible we'll hang out with friends so I can spend a few hours telling Judah to stop telling on EVERYONE for EVERYTHING in between the few moments of serious conversation that all mamas are desperate for. I'll probably get up early to write, design and edit. I'll most assuredly be late getting to my emails (let's be real - that's just my reality) and my posts will be few and far between. But SUMMER is here and we all have to rally together and embrace survival.

Some days will be sheer ridiculous. Some days will be productive and awesome. EVERY day will be an opportunity for grace. So, let's do that. Let's do grace this summer. Grace for ourselves, for others, and for our cooped up kids. Let's do grace that allows for swimming in the mornings, throwing frozen pizzas in the oven at night and holding it together (or not) in the space in between. Grace first. Grace last. Always grace.

As I see it, this is the only summer bucket list I can commit to:

1. Make time for girlfriends. If not, there will be a great trembling in the land. A great one. Girlfriends must happen. In a setting that does not include "I'm bored", "I want to go home", or "I have to go potty". I mean - it might - but I won't have to do anything about it.

2. Dinner out. Or delivered. It's all the same to me. As long as I'm not cooking it, cleaning up after it, or even having to think about it, I'm in. As often as I can afford it - dinner will find its way to our plates without any preparation by me. Please.

3. Self-care. I will have a few mornings every week with a little bit of free time. That time will include yoga, pedicures, massages and maybe sitting at 32 Shea with an iced soy chai doing NOTHING. Or answering emails. You know, it's all self-care at this point.

4. Amazon Instant. You guys, I've been an Amazon Prime member for years. It's amazing. I love it, love it, love it. Besides the free two-day shipping and awesome deals, there are TONS of movies and tv shows at my beck and call. A few weeks ago we upped our game and purchased Amazon Fire TV. BEST PURCHASE EVER. Better than Apple TV. Don't hate me. I just love it. We can access Hulu Plus, Netflix AND Amazon Instant. We are renting the heck out of movies - and watching every single free Prime movie we can this summer. I will be bribing my children into afternoon silence with Amazon every chance I can. You can judge me, but I'm pretty confident that summer in Phoenix is the best time to catch up on movies.

5. The hose. Why does the world seem to forget that the BEST summer toy is the garden hose? It's so desirable that we have to tell Judah to NOT touch it. Come tomorrow afternoon I will be releasing the kraken. Have at it, son. Spray, play and brave the summer heat with that fabulous $12 hose.

So, mamas, if you find yourself mumbling curse words under your breath, tearing frantically through your to-do list, and crossing off the days on your bedroom wall, send me a knowing look. I'm with you, sister. Summer is both amazing and terrifying. We'll do this together. We don't have to choose between a fun summer with our kids and working. We've got this. We'll conquer that beast and be better women for it.

Ready? Find a bathtub, light a candle and prepare yourself for a summer of grace.

*May 2014