Mourning Summer and Learning From What Worked: Back to School
I felt like I was unexpectedly yanked out of summer, moving from warm sand to a cool sidewalk on a sunny fall morning. We awoke surprisingly early, matted down long summer hair, threw as many school supplies as we could organize into backpacks from last year, and kicked open the front door to the familiar sea of little kids and parents moving in a stream down the sidewalk to the first day of school. The feeling was of excitement and mourning. As a parent, I guided my guys to the front door of their elementary where many tearful, relieved, and harried parents caught up with each other and waved their children off. I too said ‘hi’ to a few friends and neighbors but promptly walked Eve back to the driveway, hopped in the car to drop her at Grandma’s house, and scoot off to my own campus. It begins again. Wash and repeat, the well-worn cycle of parenthood.
Although I probably could have slowly eased all of us into school mode, I wanted to hang on the last moments of summer. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t dying for my kids to go back to school Sorry, annoying – I know, many parents can’t identify with me here, but for us – this was a good summer. We were laxer than we should have been about reading, tutoring, and even general hygiene but our mental health soared. We surprisingly enjoyed the long lazy days of August together. I tempered my need to impose some inflexible structure (although some was important) and let my kids dictate much of their own time. iPad in the morning (oh my!), day filled with outdoor, unstructured activities, and dinner in the evening. Simple as that.
But, now we are off the races. I notice my shoulders feeling stiffer and my belly feeling jittery as I try to pack in my own work and manage the once again full lives of three little people I have under my care. How quickly this feeling returns. Instead of being swept into it and just working harder and faster to keep up, I am setting an intention for the fall – I will say ‘no’ more often, work to let go of the guilt associated with it, and remember these years are fleeting and fundamental in teaching my kids to live a well-balanced life. I am not perfect, they are not perfect, but my goal is to slow down. That means listening more to how my kids look and feel in the environment I am creating, talking about the importance of self-care and mental health, and modeling this at home.
Last Gasp of Summer Quahogs
A friend brought these over for a summer dinner. Kids and adults alike went crazy for the buttery stuffed clams and my 3-year-old asks for them every time we go to the market! Adapted from ‘Tim O’Tooles’ Famous Stuffed Quahogs’
4 cups water
16 ounces chorizo sausage
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed
½ cup butter
1/3 cup of sherry
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring water to a boil over high heat. Add sausage links; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove links from broth; reserve the broth. Remove casings from the sausage.
Bring the broth back to a simmer and add the quahogs; cook until they open, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the quahogs; reserve the broth. Remove the cooked quahogs from the shells. Separate the shell halves. If necessary wash the shells.
Place the sausage and quahog meat into the bowl of a food processor; process until chopped, about 12 seconds, depending on your processor. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Add chopped onion to the processor; chop about 5 seconds. Stir in to the meat mixture.
Mix together the Ritz crackers, sherry, and sausage/clam/onion mixture. Spoon filling into empty clam shell halves and top each with a small pat of butter (about a third of a teaspoon).
Place the shells on a baking pan; bake in the preheated oven until toasty brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes.