The World's Worst Summer Bucket List


IT'S SUMMMEEEERRRRRRRRR!! Can you believe it?! *Cries tears of joy*

His face epitomises my feels.
Okay, I know I've been screaming that for the last month or so but there's been lots of the 'It's Summer' realisation moments. There was the end of my assignments, the end of my exams (I only had one but if I make it plural then it makes me sound better), and then the end of my friends' exams (they actually had plural exams), and then there was that day the sun came out and we went to the beach (pictured below is the appropriately summery looking photograph) and then the end of creche for Reuben last Friday. But let's be honest, it's not really official until I write a blog post to celebrate. Because writing a blog post means that I'm more awake than I've been in 9 months, I actually get to have hobbies and I can string a sentence together that is something other than 'These verses in Revelation fit into the theme of pseudo-divine', or 'What time's coffee?' or 'I hate Theology'. 

For the record, I don't really hate Theology but my exam was a train wreck. An absolute train wreck. So finishing 2nd year has been bitter-sweet - 98% sweet but there's that 2% of me that wants to take all of my books and stack them up so that the beginning letters are an anagram that spells 'Theology Sucks', and then light them on fire outside the college with enough petrol to make a point but not enough to hurt anyone. 

I mean, my lecturer did say, 'Don't try and guess what's coming up on the exam and only learn 2 topics'... So obviously I tried to guess what was coming up on the exam and only learned 2 topics. Aaaaaaaaaaand... my topics didn't come up. I spent 10 minutes of the exam in the toilet having an elongated pee and chill, and then 20 minutes of the exam trying to figure out who will babysit Reuben when I have to repeat it. So I only have myself to blame really, but I'm mostly too deep in bliss-mode to think about it anymore, or at least until results are out anyway. I'm more than a little ecstatic right now. It's been ropey but here I am, out the other end, 2 thirds of the way through my degree, 40 bottles of dry shampoo and 11 packets of pro plus later. God is good, can I get an amen to that?! 

As my time off with Reuben begins, our little family of two has even more reason to celebrate because Reubs got a place in Nursery. FINALLY. 

I know, I know. If you're not a parent then I know what you're thinking. Actually, if you're not a parent in Belfast or the surrounding area, or to be more specific, if you're a parent in Magherafelt where I grew up or the equivalent country-ish small-town kind of place, then I definitely know what you're thinking... 'Chill out Reb, he didn't get into Harvard. It's Nursery School'. But let me tell ya, this has been a massive learning curve for my wee ignorant brain and applying for Nursery School is a flipping competitive and stressful process! (It's so stressful I said 'flipping'). 

Of course, I am who I am and I made the whole thing a lot harder than it needed to be because I messed up the application. Back in April when I saw all the posts on Instagram and Facebook of parents announcing that their 'Babies are all grown up' and are officially going to Nursery in September, I walked home to get my letter, thinking to myself, 'What is the big deal about kids going to Nursery? It's so tragic how parents lose sleep over this'. 

And then Reuben didn't get in. And I lost sleep for 2 months. Partly, because I'm ridiculous and partly because I had let him down. The further away nurseries weren't going to work because I had couldn't get him there and make it to class in time. So I became that parent. You know, the parent ringing the Nursery every week to see if anyone had dropped out of their place and the parent turning up at the school who 'just happened to be walking past'. I even had the Education Board on speed dial and got a letter from SSA telling the school how I'm a poor, benefits scrounger (not really but I did get a letter explaining my conundrum). 

It was too little too late and I had to settle with the decision that Reubs would just go back to creche full time and stay in the toddler room while his friends were at Nursery. That was reasonable until the last week of creche when they all got certificates saying where they were all moving on to next and Reuben's was blank. Being the psycho mother that I've become, I sobbed to the guy working in Costa. He asked if I wanted one shot or two, and looked up to see the tears and snot violently running down my puffy face. Stunned, he asked if I was okay and I word vomitted all over him, 'NO MY SON DIDN'T GET INTO NURSERY AND ITS ALL MY FAULT AND I CAN NEVER DO ANYTHING RIGHT AND I HAD HIM WHEN I WAS YOUNG SO I DON'T KNOW WHAT IM DOING AND I ALWAYS LET HIM DOWN AND IF I HAD A HUSBAND THEN HE WOULD KNOW WHAT TO DO AND I CAN'T MAKE ALL THESE ADULT DECISIONS ANYMORE AND I JUST CAN'T DO THIS LIFE BECAUSE THERE'S TOO MUCH PRESSURE AND IM SO USELESS'. He replied, '...two shots, then?' 

After getting it all out at the poor unassuming barista, I made my peace with the whole thing and realised I'm an idiot and that I am not in control. God is. A couple of days later I got a random phone call from the Nursery offering Reuben a place and I am SO thankful. I realise that my blog didn't need to be graced with the ins and outs of the whole disastrous process, and it would have been enough to simply say that he is going to Nursery. But this is real, parenting life and the 'Why is this seemingly small task ridiculously harder than I expected?' moments are more common than I let on. This is one of the many lessons I want to remember - snotty, public breakdown not included. I never want to take his nursery or school/job/university place, whatever it may be, for granted. And most of all I never want to forget (but I 100% will learn this over and over) that it shouldn't take a stern word from a school secretary telling me, 'There's nothing you can do', for me to grasp that I am not the one in control. And thank goodness for that.

So, if you think I'm tragic for celebrating something as menial as Reubs going to Nursery School then you're going to absolutely hate my bucket list for the rest of the holidays, which is possibly the most boring bucket list to grace this planet and is probably more of a to-do list. But who doesn't love a good to-do list?! Here's what I'm most looking forward to. 

Read read read. (I told you it was a pretty low-standard bucket list. It's like a Home Bargains standard of bucket list - cheap but slightly valuable). The moment it hit me for the first time that uni had finished was during Reuben's nap time the day after my exam. I didn't have to spend my precious free time doing assignments, revising, or cleaning mold off the dirty dishes because I didn't have time to wash them again. Instead, I read a book, just because I could! First on the list is 'None Like Him' by Jen Wilkin and 'Hands Free Mama' by Rachel Stafford, which I started reading in 2015.

SLEEP. I don't need to say any more. If you see me, and I'm not sleeping, tell me to go home and sleep. 

Cuddle Reuben like a leech for 3 months. I have so much lost time to make up for. Recently I've been kind of thinking, but not really letting myself properly think it, that maybe I should have waited until Reuben was in Primary School before going to uni. It's been one of those, 'What if's' that really aren't worth any time thinking about but seem to torture you at 3 am. The more time studying takes up, the more time I spend thinking about how precious these years are and the more I become irrationally panicky that he will be my only child and the more time my uterus tells me that I need to spend every waking minute with him. Of course, in reality we'll have strangled each other 56432894176 times by the end of Summer and I'll be ringing every stay-at-home mama I know for sanity tips. 

REST. It's not the same as sleep, I promise. A girl can dream, but realistically it also won't look like a Netflix and bed binge. But that doesn't mean I can't take time to slow down and kill the caffeine addiction. I mean, I've been off for a few days and still had to make an emergency stop at McDonald's yesterday because I couldn't see straight through the caffeine migraine that I was enduring. I'm looking forward to the slow, 'mundane', and unspectacular days. The days where we stay in our jammies until lunchtime, only getting dressed to do the grocery shop, and passing time with endless games of trains, cars, and episodes of Paw Patrol. Those are the days I dream of on the mornings when I rush him into creche with the quickest peck on the cheek, or in the afternoons I leave the library to get yet another coffee and duck past him playing in the playground, or in the classes when I've inevitably zoned out and I spend 50 minutes thinking about how I lost my temper with him the evening before. In all of those moments, it's the mundane and un-maverick days I dream of - the days we're content to just be together. 

London. Ironically, after harping on about rest and reading and hating theology blah blah blah, we're actually going on a trip this Monday to the Summer School at London City Mission with a group from uni. LCM's goal is to share the good news of Jesus and the love of God with London's least reached - those living in poverty, those marginalised by their choices, situations or health issues, those from alienated cultural groups. They show this love and good news in all sorts of practical ways through their work with churches, community centres, schools, prisons, transitional housing and homeless ministries. My girl Deyna is going to be sharing the Reuben responsibilities and although I won't be able to go to all of the Summer School, the trip is an incredible opportunity and I am SO excited.

Adventure Days. These are the exact opposite of the chill days I mentioned earlier, but I still love them just as much. Anyone who knows me will know that I'm very passionate about my date days with Reuben - we date hard. And it's not because I'm a total romantic and want to replace a boyfriend with my son (I probably have issues but I'm not that bad). I just love setting aside special time to spend with him, just the two of us. Otherwise a busy week has gone by and everyone has been fed, no one is dead, and the to-do list has been completed...but poor Reuben has had to fight for my attention in the midst of the busyness. Even though I convince myself otherwise, the drive on the way to Tescos with me singing/screeching the Moana soundtrack to keep him from kicking my chair really doesn't count. Partly because I'm thinking of all the groceries I need to buy, figuring out what I can afford to buy, and I sometimes forget that my son is in the back seat. But mostly because we are both hating every moment. And if I'm honest with you, there have been lots of times when I've been selfish and dragged Reubs along to meet up people when it wasn't a necessity, purely because I didn't have the energy to deal with him on my own. I'm sure it isn't that way for everyone, but my multitasking skills are mediocre at best so I love having date days where I can forget about everything else and focus on my little ball of craziness.

Treats. I'm going to treat myself and I'm not going to be ashamed about it. The boys don't know this but they're going to take Reuben out of my sight and I'm going to get my hair done, do my nails, and probably clean out my ears because the girls informed me this week that this is something people actually do. And it's never exactly been high up on my list of priorities, but I've a new theory that the reason I talk so loud is because I'm actually half-death. The tone of this blog really has reached an all-new low. 

- Move house. Goodbye, Donegal Road! This is a biggy on the Summer Bucket List, I'm both super excited and super apprehensive about the change. One minute, I just want to move RIGHT NOW and get going and the next minute, I just want to go back to being in Primary School when the biggest change to cope with would be when mum gave me Tuna sandwiches instead of ham (that actually was a difficult change to adjust to). We're moving out of Belfast and I'm hoping that it's going to be a long-term thing, but who knows? (Because I'm not in control, right?). The reason this bucket list is so boring is probably because I need to save for adult stuff like furniture, but it also means many trips to Ikea so life is wonderful.

- Livewire. So as y'all know, I am a Christian and I 100% love Jesus. But for the typical Northern Irish twenty-something Christian, Summer doesn't usually look like going on Park-Crawls (like Pub-Crawls but with play parks? No? Okay then) with their 3 year old offspring. A lot of my friends spend their whole Summers showing the love of God at various kids camps or volunteering in different charities/ministries, or as I write this two of my friends are making plans for their trip to Kenya to work alongside charities and individuals out there. BUT this year I'm branching out from beneath the clutches of Paw Patrol and I'm going to be a leader at Livewire during New Horizon, an event for people aged 15-18 to help them follow Jesus. If you think you'd be interested in going then hit me up please! 

I'll probably add to this as Summer goes on, but I can assure you it won't get much more exciting than cleaning forgotten body parts and organising my photo albums into date order. But I wouldn't have it any other way.