Pools Count As Baths

Photo of a couple of kids and their mother, having fun and refreshing with a hose on a hot summer da...
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Feral Mom Summer Is The Only Way You're Going To Make It

You’ll remember how to be a human in September.

If you were to walk into my house right now, there’s a good chance you’d trip over the pile of towels and flip-flops by the door, maybe landing in a sea of paper scraps from my 5-year-old’s daily crafting. While building block towers with my 2-year-old last night, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had vacuumed the rug we were sitting on. There’s a giant patch of dead grass in our front yard from using the splash pad for three days in a row without moving it, and the brick path that leads to our porch is littered with sunglasses and bubble wands and chalk. I’ve cooked maybe three full meals since school finished for the year, but we’ve gone through countless boxes of macaroni and cheese, and you’ll find grape stems and remnants of watermelon rinds and cracker crumbs amid the dirty dishes in my sink.

It’s been a Feral Mom Summer. And I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.

To be fair, I did have a moment of panic about the rug and paused our block-tower construction to deep clean the baseboards and vacuum up roughly 8,000 pounds of dog hair, but my feelings haven't changed— we have been living a wild and free summer. Dinners have been eaten by our neighborhood pool and they look like chopped fruit and hunks of deli turkey and white cheddar popcorn. My hair has been in a perpetual cycle of wet from the pool and sweat and then dried by the sun on our walks home. I shove pillow forts and the girls’ giant inflatable car beds to the side of the family room every day so I can work out, and then I just leave them there. The kitchen table is splattered with paint from their early morning art sessions, and there are crayons everywhere. The laundry has piled up, and there is always at least one pool towel in the dryer and sometimes my kids have to put slightly damp swimsuits back on because they didn’t have time to fully dry before we were out on another adventure.

T-shirts are napkins during Feral Mom Summer.filadendron/E+/Getty Images

We’ve stayed out until 10:00 at our town’s free concerts and we’ve counted french fries from the food truck and an ice cream cone as a balanced meal. The kids have watched endless movies, sometimes falling asleep to YouTube videos on their tablets. When my kids ask me if they can play with the hose themselves, I say yes, and when they ask if they can paint their face like a kitty cat, I say yes, and when they ask me to bake a frozen pizza for the third time this week, I say yes.

Am I thoroughly exhausted? Absolutely. Do I have that Sunday afternoon feeling where the walls of the house are closing in on me and I don’t feel better until I’ve mopped the kitchen floor and put away 10 loads of laundry and made the kids pick up all the toys? Of course. Do I regret all of the wild abandon of summer and wish I could rein it in?

Not even a little bit.

I have been the parent who prints out the summer bucket lists and the one who tries to create some kind of “summer routine,” but no matter what I did, I still felt a low-grade panic that I was wasting this precious time with my kids. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough and they might not be having as much fun as I did in my own childhood summers. I never went to bed satisfied with the day. Until I embraced the Feral Mom Summer.

It works for us. I feel engaged and fun, like I’m really giving it my all by ignoring all of the things I think I should be keeping up with. I embrace the fact that my floors are going to stay filthy because I have wet kids traipsing in and out with grass and mud all over their feet, carrying the rocks they found and want to paint. I am OK with not cooking “real” meals and going out for ice cream on a Wednesday afternoon and then letting them have a popsicle that night — all of it has helped me really, truly enjoy the summer with my kids.

It’s a lot of work to be feral, honestly. I’m shattered every night at 9 p.m. and all I can think about is a shower and bed. But I usually end up on the couch with my husband, watching Liar Liar like I’ve never seen it before, stepping over toys and ignoring the dishes so I can make a cocoon on the couch.

Because Feral Mom Summer isn’t just for the kids.