Mid-conversation, a friend of mine recently confessed, “SUMMER. IS. KILLING. ME.”
I had a sense of what she meant, but hadn’t quite gotten there yet. My week of starfishing had me all relaxed, full-tanked, ready to rumble.
Well, it’s been two weeks. My tank is no longer full. Ready to rumble, I am not.
SUMMER. IS. DISORIENTING. ME.
I hardly know which end is up. Where does Jo go today? Tomorrow? How will he get there and home again? And then what about Cal? It’s like some nasty little Rubik’s Cube that you think you’ve almost got solved and then all the colors change and scramble and you’re right back where you started and want to huck the damn thing at the wall.
Back in those retrospectively perfect, happy days of pre-summer, I knew what Monday meant. It meant dance class and then Trader Joes with Cal and picking up Jo at the same damn place I always pick him up. I also knew all the other days. The dishes got washed, the laundry done, the groceries bought and AJ and I each got a few of our own blessed hours to saw and hammer boards and click away at the computer, respectively.
Now I spend most of my time trying to solve the puzzle for next week’s pile of pick ups and drop offs and by the time I do, the next next week is looming and the house undone.
Then there’s the emotional fallout from the boys’ week with the grandparents. They had a great time. But a week away is a week away and apparently, when you’re 3 and 6, you come home from Colorado with the emotional resilience of something with Precious Little emotional resilience and the etiquette of a rabid beast.
How did I fall so far behind in the parenting game? I keep trying to remind myself about times I’ve totally rocked it. These days, I feel lost and behind. Underwater. How do I respond to this perpetual whining? This refusal to get back on the bike? This screaming and kicking the fence? I cling to the hope that parenting mastery ebbs and flows. I buy parenting books online. I dissociate with TV.
How did this happen to summer?
Summer is supposed to be The Best. But you know who made summer the best? Stay at home moms did that. At least mine did. When the school year wrapped down, there she was. Ready and waiting. The house in order, plastic pool on the lawn, her lovely almond fingernails clicking away at the buttons on our phone, inviting friends to come over and play.
Because of her, I spent summer at my house and because of my friends’ mothers, I spent summer at theirs. It was a boundless field of time and play and popsicles. It was not like the school year at all.
The summer I’m living now is a shadow of that one. But I am not my mother. And this is not then. The truth is that I’m unable and unwilling to give the summer I once had to my kids.
Unwilling because I like my job. I want my job. It’s a part-time gift from the heavens. And it allows AJ to work part time himself.
Unable because the vast majority of families we know are in the same boat. There is not a sea of other mothers waiting to help me create summer bliss. They’re working too. And scrambling from place to place looking just as wacked out as me. Holding on till the reliability of the school year descends and smooths everything back into place again.