I like a schedule, okay? I write from home, I need a couple quiet hours everyday. When the kids were younger, I could create a little space for myself with a good daycamp. But now that Nick is 15 and Emma is 12, they have other plans. Unfortunately, their ideal day creates a lot more work for me. Here's how I've been spending my summer.
1. In the Kitchen
With the looser schedule, there's always a meal in progress. I'll put away the orange juice from Nick's 11am breakfast and Emma will wander in looking for a tuna sandwich. By the time I've sliced up strawberries for an afternoon snack, it's time for dinner. Even when my kids make the meals, the kitchen is never clean, the floor is sticky, we're out of milk. Let me outta here!
2. In the Car
Kids need to be driven places, I know that. But in summer, the driving is erratic and impromptu. "Mom, can you drive me to the beach?" "Mom, can you pick us up from the mall?" I can't plan, I can't focus - I'm constantly on edge, car keys in hand. And now that Nick has his driving permit, the stress level of ordinary carpool trips is through the roof. Being in the passenger seat with a 15 year-old boy at the wheel is a singular experience - I've never felt so helpless.
3. On Guard
Summer ushers in a whole set of new worries. I let Emma ride her bike to the beach for the first time; she didn't call me or check her cell phone for my frantic texts for three hours. Nick had a friend sleep over and they rented Saw 5 ("extreme violence") for 23 minutes before I even noticed. There's an incessant checklist going on in my mind - are they sunscreened, helmeted, hydrated, saying no to drugs? It's exhausting.
Oh, how I long for September and the school bus, hot lunches, and six hour stretch where the rules are enforced by someone else! But for the present, I'll put another load of beach towels in the washer and mix up a batch of frozen lemonade. I may not get much work done, but my kids will have a great summer. And I take comfort from knowing I'm not alone in my plight. As one of my dear Facebook mom friends said about her summer:
"I'm freaking out. I can barely get through a long weekend, for cryin' out loud!"When things get really bad, there's always Chardonnay.
For another take on summer, check out my post from last year: Backyard with Benefits