I’ve seen many blog posts and Facebook pictures about the start of summer. Most of them are LAZY SUMMER DAY SITTING BY THE POOL OF AWESOME. A few admit HOLY CRAP IS THIS REALLY 12 WEEKS LONG but mostly whispered between the YAY SUMMER.
There’s a “good parent” pressure to embrace summer although the hundreds of posts on how to keep the kids occupied (like mine: 10 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer And PROBABLY Not Get Arrested, okay, not like mine) betray how hard it can be. Or the thousands of pins of arts and crafts to do mostly while the kids are busy since they are STUPID COMPLICATED. Well, probably, because I’m not actually on Pinterest since I can be pretend-crafty all by myself.
For years, I psyched myself up for summer parenting guru-ness by refusing to put my kids in camp for anything more than a week here and a day there. I was never dumb enough to bring them to the pool myself (seeing a toddler die in PICU after drowning in a pool with 20 adults around who all thought someone else was watching him will do that to someone), but I had sprinklers and chalk and crafts and play dates and parks and possibilities.
And I was miserable. Not because of my kids. I just hate summertime. It’s like I have seasonal affective disorder of summer caused by air-conditioning and heat and shorts and butt sweat. I had it before kids, but no one cared because I was either at camp or school or working or hiding from the sun until it was cool enough to go outside, which was still 2 hours earlier than teens and early 20-ers go out.
Once my children popped out, my hatred of summer seemed more like a problem than a quirk. I’m supposed to LOVE summertime. My kids are home. The weather is great. Water and sand and parks and vacations. Every day is Saturday! No lunches to make. No schedules to keep.
BUT I LOVE SCHEDULES. And my kids do, too. (My husband is the only one who thrives unscheduled, but he works full-time so he’s a moot point.)
For a long time, I forced myself to do summer like everyone else, and my family suffered. When every moment is up to me and the thermometer is at 90 degrees, I suck. And my suckage affected those who can’t drive away and have summer fun with normal people.
This year, I accepted my summer mehs and stopped trying to be Beach Barbie Mom. My kids only have 4-5 weeks of summer vacation scattered throughout the 3 months of death-by-heat. Otherwise, they’ll attend 1/2 day camp at their school. My son will be going the same amount of days he now goes to school, and my daughter will have to go 2 extra days. In fact, she’ll attend more school per week this summer than next school year.
At first, I cringed admitting this like it’s some sort of failure as the not-working-full-time parent. I catch myself throwing out excuses when forced by small talk to divulge our summer plans: Well, kids do better in year-round school. My kids won’t have to get used to another style of camp or teacher. My kids get to go to camp together.
While those are all true, if I could parent in the heat, if I didn’t hate how I acted while working at home when they are at home trying to get my attention, if I didn’t feel so guilty staying inside on “beautiful summer days,” I would do what every other stay-at-home, work-at-home, work-part-time parent is doing: I would celebrate summer by sitting around in backyard BBQs and on pool floats and let my kids stay up late and post mason jars full of fireflies.
But I’m only a really good mom when we have a schedule and school and lunch and laundry and downtime and uptime and play time. Or when it’s not 90 degrees out.
Maybe I’ll answer the next person who asks about our summer places with: I get to be a great mom this summer. For the first time in years. Because I’m not trying to be someone else this summer. My family is grateful, and you are clearly weirded out so have fun at the pool!
Thanks goes to Leigh Ann’s summer post for getting me to write my post on summer that I’ve been putting off for weeks because I’m not supposed to admit this stuff.