Embracing 18 Summers

standard May 21, 2012 16 responses

I will be the first to admit that I laughed when Amy Foster, a Disney executive who spoke at the Disney Social Media Moms celebration, mentioned that all we get with each of our children is 18 summers.

I laughed and dismissed the comment that had jaws dropping all around me.

I mean, duh, we get 18 summers, but it’s not like the kids go away after that point. College students come home for the summer. Sometimes they even come home to live after college.

But the words kept bouncing around my head.

Then I did some math.

C just turned 7 this week. That means 11 summers are left until she goes to college.

11. Summers.

And what have we done with the last 7?

We’ve sent her to daycare or day camp, rendering the summer utterly indistinguishable from the rest of the school year. We still had to get up early. Still had to rush out of the house to get somewhere on time. Still had to follow a week/weekend schedule.

Now to be fair, until this summer, I had no choice. Employers rarely take too kindly to having moms let their kids run wild in the office all summer. But this year? This year I’m working from home, and there’s no good reason the kids can’t be having fun in the backyard while I plug away in my home office.

I don’t remember all of my summers, but I clearly remember the feeling of relief as June neared. The feeling that soon time would stretch into oblivion, that the days would be filled with just fun and imagination.

I want C and Little L to feel the freedom that endless summer days can bring. I want them to enjoy just playing and being outside, exploring, building, living their childish adventures to the fullest.

Some of my friends are horrified that I’m only signing them up for a week of camp this year. I’m a little scared myself to be losing hours of free work time every day. I’m not sure how I’ll manage to exercise daily. I’m not even sure they’ll have all that much fun.

But I’m willing to give them a chance.

I’m willing to say “go out and play and don’t come in until dinner.” I’m willing to give them more freedom than they’re used to. I’m willing to pretend they’re not going to make a beeline for the creek that now runs through our back yard. I’m willing to ignore messes, skinned knees, and any skirmish that emerges. I’m willing to forgo carefully structured days and activities. I’m willing to just let them be. All in the name of taking advantage of these last 11 summers.

Finally living in our town

standard March 23, 2012 7 responses

Years ago, when we first moved to California, me for the first time, M to come home, we spent two years living in his parents’ back yard. (Don’t worry, we didn’t pitch a tent, we lived in the pool house, which was more like a guest cottage than a bathing suit hut.)

For two years we got to know the town, the library, the stores, the parks, the people. And then we moved 30 minutes south.

It made sense for us to move south. We bought a house close to M’s law school. We bought a house we could afford, in a lovely neighborhood. It was the ideal choice at the time.

And yet, I had a job in the old town and, when C was born, I put her in daycare in the old town. After daycare C graduated to a preschool in the old town and eventually an elementary school even further north.

For 8 years we resided in one town and lived in another. It was a bit like having a split personality disorder. Our friends lived 30 minutes away from us. Our grocery store was 30 minutes away. Even our doctors and dentists were there. When I started freelancing, my “office” (aka my Starbucks) was in that town.

We rarely, if ever, invited people over because we didn’t want to make people drive all the way to us. The kids didn’t have playdates because all of their friends lived north of us.

This past week, on a night neither M nor I wanted to cook, we hustled the kids into the car and went out for Mexican food… in our town.

We drove 5 minutes and were downtown in the town we’d been pretending was ours for so long, but is actually ours now.

I looked around me and started to feel what I’ve always felt when I came to this town – a little bit like an imposter, a little bit like an outsider. And then I realized.

This is my town now. This is where my kids will grow-up. We have library cards to the neighborhood library. We can call friends and be at a playdate in 5 minutes or less. We run into friends at the park, at the grocery store, in the street. The pretense is over and is giving way to reality.

We’re home. Finally.

Embarrassed

standard January 27, 2012 11 responses

I live in an amazing area. It’s gorgeous here. Gorgeous as in sometimes I want to stop on the side of the road just so I can gawk at the scenery. The weather is amazing — never too hot or too cold. There are no bugs. (No, really, no bugs.) And even better, the people here are awesome.

This place, that I never expected to live in, is amazing in every way possible… except one.

The housing prices here are astounding. And not in a good way.

This past month, as we’ve visited countless homes in the hopes of moving to a town that would allow us to reduce the amount of time we spend commuting and that would bring us closer to our community, C has lamented the unfairness of the high price of homes.

“But we need homes. Why can’t they all cost the same?”

So, after patting ourselves on the back for raising a bleeding heart liberal like her parents, we’ve explained to her again and again that sure, there are affordable homes, but if you want to live somewhere as special as we do, you have to be willing to pay the price.

This week we found the house of our dreams and one dizzying few days later, we’re finding ourselves the new owners of this house.

And I am SO excited.

Seriously, it’ll be like living in one of those spots I want to pull over and gawk at.

I keep wanting to pinch myself about what just happened.

And yet, I can’t seem to allow myself to scream it on the rooftops.

Fact is, I think I’m embarrassed about what we’re paying for this house.

For this area? It’s a deal. Ok, fine, at least it’s quite reasonable. And a great investment. And we can afford it. Which is astounding in and of itself.

But I have friends whose husbands have lost jobs this year. I have friends facing foreclosure. I have friends who live pay check to pay check. Sharing the listing with them to show off our new gem feels so… unfeeling.

Tonight as I was driving I thought back to the year we’ve just lived through. Everyone has their own burdens. Ours are health related, not financial (knock wood). As much as C wishes it were possible, we can’t all live in the same homes, in the same towns. We’ve chosen this place because of family and roots. It is our home. I can’t keep being embarrassed about the choice we’ve made in living here.

I’m excited about this new chapter in our lives. Yes, it will mean some sacrifices. Yes, it might be a little insane when you think about the actual numbers involved in the game. But when I wake up in the morning and I drink my tea in front of a view that makes my soul whole, I’ll know there was a reason we found this place just when we needed it.

I’m making peace with my embarrassment. I’m embracing our choice.

Snow in the Bay Area? No way.

standard February 23, 2011 5 responses
Teeny Tiny Snowman

Last Thursday my morning consisted of frantic hunting for mittens, hats, warm pants, spare socks, and a warm jacket for Little L.

You see, every year her preschool makes snow for the kids. They bring in this massive machine that eats large blocks of ice and spits out snow. Parents gather with shovels and turns one of the playgrounds into a winter wonderland where each class will get 40 minutes to sled, make snow angels, and teensy tiny little snowmen. Then the kids are ushered back into their class to warm up with hot chocolate.

It’s adorable to see everyone in miss-matched, ill-fitting snow gear, but before you get all huffy about the silliness of the expense etc, remember that for many of these kids, it’s their first time seeing snow. This is the only kind of snow day they ever know.

In the end, snow day was canceled and rescheduled because of excessive rain. I, for one, was thrilled that I was not shoveling snow in the rain, even if I was a little annoyed to have turned my car into a winter closet.

Whatever, I figured, at least I’d know where all the stuff was when snow day finally happened.

So imagine my surprise upon opening the newspaper to learn that come Saturday we might have a real snow day. As in, snow from the sky, not snow from the ice eating machine.

Imagine that!

The San Francisco Bay Area hasn’t seen any snow at sea level since 1976. (First person to utter the words “That was 35 years ago!” and “Hey! Isn’t that the year you were born in?” in the same sentence is getting the first snowball. Just FYI.)

But if the front heading our way from Alaska picks up enough water while passing over the ocean, Saturday might see us scrambling for more snow gear and rushing outside to make some snow men and snow angels.

I better put hot cocoa and mini marshmallows on the shopping list.