I need my kids to go back to school.

There’s definitely a sense of laziness that descends during the summer. The change of schedule and lack of solitude really leave me out of sorts. And the fact is, I never get used to it. I just stay out of sorts until school starts again and my little vultures are out of the house during the day. “Productivity” isn’t really in my vocabulary during the summer months.

I used to feel bad saying stuff like that. Mothers aren’t supposed to admit that they want their kids to leave, right? We’re not supposed to admit that having them around constantly leaves us frazzled. We’ve somehow deluded ourselves into thinking that if we really loved them, we’d bring our A game 100% of the time and enjoy every second. The continual perpetuation of this ridiculous ideal is why so many women (or parents in general) feel guilty even thinking such things, let alone saying it out loud.

I reject all of that. I know myself. I know my own heart. And I also know my own limits. I love my kids. I would jump in front of a speeding car for them, take a bullet for them, and give them all the food off my plate before I’d let them starve. But like all parents, I also sacrifice myself on a regular basis in a hundred smaller, less noticeable ways. This way of living isn’t sustainable long term. At some point, you have to take care of yourself so that you are able to take care of the ones you love. (Jesus teaches this when he instructs us to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we’re not loving ourselves, then how can we love others? Whether you are a person of faith or not, the principle is still applicable).

In order to take care of yourself, you have to know your own needs. I need quiet and solitude. It’s not optional. It’s not something I can just put on the back burner (though I do at times – and my family feels it). As an introvert, I am a better mother, wife and friend when I get regular alone time – something I don’t get much of in the summer. Hence the reason I can’t wait for my kids to go back to school.

But you know what? I also can’t wait for their bright little faces to walk back through the door each afternoon.