All over the web you can find stories and pictures of moms celebrating the return to school or moms lamenting that their kids don’t go back until after Labor Day. Meanwhile I’m over here just as upset as my kids that school is starting the day after tomorrow. Really, I just hate the end of summer.
Of course, I’m not letting on that I hate this time of year as much as they do. That wouldn’t be seemly. No, I’m being all upbeat for them about how great it is! New friends! New teachers! Cool learning! Wheeeee!
One of them mastered making mac and cheese in the Instant pot this summer. And she keeps baking us treats. And they’re chilling with their friends and sharing jokes and stories. And they’re just kinda fun to have around all the time.
2. I’m going to miss the flexibility of being able to just go do something fun if we want.
Ice cream. Day trips to the beach. Target. The pool. Just chilling downtown. Lunches at Chipotle. All on a whim or at a moment’s notice. I mean, duh, I can still do these things, but it’s less fun without the kids. Turns out, the people at Baskin Robbins look at you funny if you order all the candy toppings when you’re on your own.
3. I loathe the increased anxiety for the older kid and everything that comes with it.
Social Anxiety is a bitch. And in the summer it takes a bit of a break. Then in the fall it comes back with a vengeance. School is HARD for a kid who finds crowds stressful. Like, really, really hard. Especially when those crowds are stuck in a classroom for prescribed amounts of time and you can’t really escape. The emotional upheaval has to get dealt with at home and it’s a strain on the whole family.
4. I looooooathe homework.
There. I said it. I’m one of the moms who thinks that there should never, ever be any homework. Because it gets in the way of our afternoon ice cream outings. And also because it’s a dumb waste of time, energy and stress. Especially for moms.
5. I despise packing lunches.
Oh, the bliss of not having to pack lunches for the last 9 weeks. It’s been amazing.
No, my kids won’t eat sandwiches or anything else that can be prepped ahead of time.
Yes, they’ll eat the same. exact. lunch I’ve been packing for them since they started elementary school.
No, I don’t think I’ll ever stop hating this chore. Nor will I ever feel wealthy enough to just throw in the towel and get them hot lunch.
Please don’t suggest I make them pack their own lunches. The stress mentioned in #3 is already enough for me to deal with.
6. I struggle with a mix of feelings about having my workload pretty much doubles with volunteer stuff.
Because I LIKE the volunteer stuff I do, but there’s rather a lot of it and it’s quite overwhelming at the start of the year. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Because it’s not PC for me to hate volunteering and also it’s an important part of my kids’ education.
7. It’s kinda the start of a new year and that comes with its own baggage.
Like the kind that makes you take stock of personal achievements and come up lacking. I mean, what have you accomplished lately? Huh? Well, probably more than me. But that’s ok, I still love you.
8. It’s almost the end of the year and that comes with its own baggage.
The start of school seems to be the international signal for the start of the race to the finish. The race to win the whole year. From a business perspective. A frenzy to MEET ALL THE GOALS! MAKE ALL THE SALES! PROMOTE ALL THE THINGS!
Dude, I’m exhausted just thinking about it and so far I’m only just getting wind of the increased work-load on my end.
But it’s not all bad. At least I get to go school supply shopping and soon, really, really soon, the Pumpkin Spice Lattes will be back. Hush now, a mom has to take her joy where she can find it.
Six weeks into summer break and only one thing is certain. I have developed quite the Love/Hate relationship with summer.
I’m sitting here, at my computer, still in my pajamas, sipping a leisurely second cup of tea. The kids, having just spent a fun hour crafting beads, are now strapping on their brand new (thank you Grandma!) roller blades and pads so they can “practice” skating around the living room.
It’s almost 11am.
This is very much how every morning has gone since school let out back in May.
The kids wake up and have breakfast with M. They turn on the TV and watch their allotted two TV shows of the day while I snooze away with the puppy by my side. When I roll out of bed they move on to whatever activity catches their fancy that day – dolls, legos, crafting, reading, swinging on the new backyard swing. For the most part they let me have breakfast in peace and when I’m done, they let me move to the office to get some work done.
At some point mid-morning we all get dressed and figure out our plan for the day. Swimming, errands, lunch out, playdate with friends… We’ve done it all.
It has, so far, been absolutely lovely. Exactly the kind of summer I wanted the kids to have.
Lots of down-time. Lots of room for imaginative play. Lots of room even for boredom.
Throw in the fact that it has been unseasonably warm for a Northern California summer, and you pretty much have a recipe for the perfect summer.
Knowing all that, you might wonder, why, with three weeks to go before the start of school, I’m starting to chafe a little under all this summer togetherness.
I mean, clearly, the kids are giving me plenty of space.
I haven’t really been alone for more than a few minutes at a time since May. I haven’t been able to change plans midway just because I feel like it. I haven’t felt unwatched in weeks.
I know that there are moms everywhere who live like this year-round. They have toddlers, or they home school. Their kids are always around and they’re laughing at me now. And I get that. I mean, duh, what am I really complaining about here? That my delightful kids are home with me? Oh please. It’s pathetic.
No, what I’m really complaining about is the loss of my routine.
In the noise and the chaos I’m struggling to find myself. I can’t focus on the words. I can’t figure out what I need to do. And at the end of the day, I can’t pinpoint exactly what I’ve accomplished, but I’m way too tired to even try to do anything after they go to bed.
In three weeks I’ll have to get up at a regular time again. Have to get dressed and face the world probably before I even have my first cup of tea. I’ll have to keep my eye on the clock, stay organized and on top of the laundry and the food shopping. I’ll lose the ability to just wing the day, see where it takes us.
But I’ll get the quiet and the structure back.
See? Love/Hate. There’s just no winning, is there?
I had all these grand plans for the summer. I was going to get up at 6:30 to go for a walk/run with the dog before M left for work. I was going to write, write, write, write. So much writing. So many goals. I was going to get my office and myself organized. I was going to go on day trip adventures with the girls.
I had Plans. With a capital P.
I totally felt like having the kids (and the puppy) at home wouldn’t be a hindrance. Instead they would help me stay on track!
Ha. Ha. Double Ha.
They might well be 9 and almost 7. They might well be relatively self sufficient. They might even be more than happy to play somewhere far from my supervisory eye. They’re still there. They still talk, and play, and quibble, and need, need, need.
They might not be in the office with me (most of the time), but their chatter and their singing (oh yes… so much singing) is pervasive and makes it so very hard to get into The Zone. When I do, somehow, manage to get into that elusive productive space, they somehow need something important. You know. Like lunch. Needy little ones.
There’s no winning.
As for the getting up early to walk? Who was I kidding? No, really, was anyone fooled by that declaration? (Even if I did only make it in my head?) Summers are for sleeping in! Duh.
A smart mom would throw in the towel and not even try. A smart mom would put off all of these lofty goals and just relax and enjoy her kids for the next few weeks.
But I am not a smart mom. I am a pig headed mom who wants it all. And who really feels the need to scrape together a few dollars to help the family finances as best as she can.
And frankly, I think the kids deserve a summer where I’m not hovering over their shoulders every second of every day. They SHOULD get to make a mess of their bedrooms, the living room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms. They SHOULD get to use the swing in any creative way that makes sense to them without me cringing and wondering how much the ER visit will run.
So I’m going to keep spending my mornings and some of my afternoons sitting at my desk, trying to find my calm writing center, trying to get in touch with my muses, trying to ignore the kids. And when the noise gets to be too much, we’ll duck out and go to swim team practice, or hunt down some fun summer activities and a stray ice cream or two before coming home to try to tame the mess so daddy never has to know just how bad it can get.
What? Your swim team practice doesn’t feature wine? That makes me sad for you.
I’m sure I’ll get used to having them be home non stop just a few days before school starts.
And then I’ll have to spend weeks getting used to the silence again.
The morning of our first full day of summer vacation I sat down with the kids and placed a huge blank poster board on the table in front of us. I let the markers I had gathered slide onto the table and answered their expectant gazes.
“Rules. Summer rules.”
Expectant gazes turned wary.
“You guys are going to be home with me for nine weeks. We’re going to need some rules so that we can make sure we all have fun and do what needs to get done.”
The rules aren’t set in stone, but they are written up in bright Sharpie and posted on my office door. They’re based on our particular needs. The document bears both of their signatures as proof that they approved the rules when we wrote them up.
So far, it’s working quite well.
When they beg for more TV, I point them to the rules.
When they’re mean to each other, I point them to the rules.
When they start to say they’re bored, I point them to the rules.
When they insist on talking at me while I’m writing, I silently point to the rules.
It’s only been 10 days, but so far there has been more laughter than tears and I haven’t had to raise my voice one. If that isn’t the soundtrack to a happy summer, I don’t know what is.