This summer has been fun … well, almost fun. I have actually been chasing fun since summer began.
I knew this summer would be different. This is the first summer where I have no nappers. No reason to be home midday. A summer with all three children home, all day and all night with good ‘ole mom.
Since my kids were only interested in attending one week of camp back in June, we created a long list of exciting day trips to enjoy -- from amusement parks to museums, hikes and family visits. Flanked by two vacations to book-end my carefree months of late June and July, I figured my summer would be quite momentous, much like Bryan Adams’ famed Summer of ’69.
I mean, what could be better? I have three happy, healthy, eager children who want to swim, hit the beach, ride bikes and hit local zoos and museums. Back in June, it sounded to me like an amazing break from the monotonous school routine. We could wake up lazily, enjoy late breakfasts and hit the pavement, heading wherever we choose, with only one commitment each day – bedtime.
But as I near the halfway point, I am finding that I am the one who’s running out of gas as we hit the open road. We have visited a few new spots every week and the preparation alone has been draining. Once we get to our destination and tackle all that’s new -- the excitement, the rules, the listening, the ignoring, the in fighting, the screaming, the snacks, the bathroom breaks, the lines -- where is the laughter? (And I mean the laughter coming from me – not the kids!)
Take the beach last week. It took me all morning to get our stuff together. I made lunches, packed towels, blankets, clothes for wet, clothes for dry, snacks for there and on the way home. By the time we got there, not only were we the lone soles at the beach on a blustery day that reached a high of only 62, but I was a nervous wreck watching my kids wade knee deep in violent surf that I was certain was going to make a meal out of them. When we spotted two porpoises frolicking offshore, I was positive they were sharks and made the kids wade in ankle-high surf… talk about a party pooper! I definitely believe I yelled more than I laughed during that sandy trip to the beach.
It seems no matter the day trip, my visions of a summer filled with ease and carefree laughter have dissipated amidst the numerous tasks needed to make the trip “perfect.” Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed many moments, but they haven’t run as smoothly as I anticipated they would weeks ago.
The other day I met some friends at their local swimming pool. Again, I was running a half-hour late following my excruciating lunch making, pool-bag packing, straightening-the-house-up-morning. We finally arrived at the pool and the kids stuck to me like glue. They were worried the water was too cold, they wanted to go into the hot tub, they were wet, they were hungry, they were basically “anything” that had a solution that involved making me get or do something for them. I looked at my friends who were comfortably stretching out on lawn chairs and chatting as their children independently satisfied themselves.
I kept looking at my kids, wondering why they couldn’t just get in the water and play like everyone else? While caught up in my “poor me” mode, a ferocious bumblebee circled my head, no doubt drawn to me by the sweet smell of Hawaiian Tropic. It was threatening to sting me with its constant low buzz, and I threw off my hat and attempted to swat. I missed, but that bee – the Bee of Reason -- stunned me back to reality.
I realized something I might have been missing all along. The kids were excited about these day trips because we were going to get out and play as a family. I have been stressing out on the functionality of the trip, the preparation and the execution and not focusing at all on the fun. And my visions of carefree lawn chair lounging and chatting with my friends while my kids kept themselves entertained with their friends must be recognized more as hopes rather than expectations. Although my children are getting older, they’re still young and they still need a lot. And it’s my job to provide most of it for them.
With that in mind, I hopped in the pool with my kids and spent a nice afternoon full of Motorboat, Marco Polo and loads of swim practicing from the wall. Along with it came heaps of giggles – from me and from the kids.
We swam for nearly an hour before we heard a whistle, signaling to us that our fun was over. We jumped out of the pool just before the lifeguard’s net swooped down and scooped up what was determined to be the remnants of a baby’s dirty diaper.
The pool was to be closed for the rest of the afternoon.
Guess that’s Karma for me – a little bit of poop thrown in my direction for a change… as I have been kind of a party pooper lately.