Monday, May 23, 2011

Still life with tomatoes

This is the last week of school for my kids before summer vacation, God help us all.

I haven't traditionally done all that well with summer vacation as a stay-at-home parent. When my kids were wee tiny tots, summer vacation meant that all of our favorite hangouts were suddenly overrun with hulking behemoths school-aged children who swatted my kids away from the swings and picture book shelves and children's museum displays, shoving ahead of them and refusing to take turns. When my kids reached school age themselves, summer meant scrambling to come up with affordable day camps so that my sudden loss of seven precious hours a day of kid-free time wouldn't kill us all send me into a tailspin. And during the hours they weren't in camp, summer meant toting them along to every grocery run and doctor's appointment, which was less than fun on all but the very best days.

Now that they're teenagers, summer mostly means that my kitchen is never, ever clean. EVER. See also: my living room, the den, the dining room, every bathroom in the house. I do get plenty of "me" time, however, because they generally don't roll out of bed until well after noon. And I'm able to run all of my errands kid-free regardless of the time of day, because going out in public with your mother is a fate worse than death, apparently (unless she's buying you something, in which case it would be swell if she could just pony up the cash and make herself scarce).

I've been afflicted with a particular malaise the past several summers. The first summer it really hit me hard was one in which my maternal grandmother was terminally ill, and I assumed it was due to the impending loss (and, if I'm being honest, the consequent cross-country travel -- I believe I've mentioned that I don't travel well). But the following summer it hit me again. And the summer after that. And now I've just come to accept it -- I am not a summer person. I've learned there is such a thing as reverse seasonal affective disorder, where folks living in warm climates get all morose during the summer, so let's just assume I have that, okay?

Because I'm sure it has nothing to do with the messy house, or the surly teenagers, or the fact that every summer brings me closer to the one in which they will move out of my house, and then I will be looking at long years of clean kitchens and bathrooms and no one to decline my offers of an afternoon at IKEA or the mall. No need to leave a note on the kitchen counter to let them know I've just popped out to the farmer's market or the dentist, to tell them that there's orange juice in the fridge and tortilla chips in the pantry, to remind them about that orthodontist appointment later in the afternoon.

Yep. I'm sure all that has nothing to do with it. Must be that other thing.


  1. And I'm not blinking back tears as I think of our oldest who just blew through town for a whole 7-1/2 hours between an anime convention and heading back to art school, and our youngest who's already in high school.

  2. Ugh. I don't want to even think about this coming summer. Moving overseas (back to the US), getting the kids to their summer camps, buying/renting a new house, finding schools, and ultimately having a nervous breakdown. Pass the wine, please.

  3. This is Emma's last week at school too. At 10, she still needs me more than I would like, and still wants to go everywhere with me.

    Your post made me think of Anna Quindlen's recent book "Every Last One". I don't know if you've read it, but the opening chapter is about how little alone-time the mother/protagonist has, and I think of that book every time I wish for alone time.

  4. I've always loved the holidays because I don't have to make school lunches.

    With an almost 15 year old on my hands I am very aware that life is speeding up just as I am trying to slow it down.

  5. you forgot awful adorable in the equation . lol.
    hang in there honey.

  6. Oh so that is what I suffer from!
    I KNEW it was some kind of weird disease.

  7. We need to switch places. I feel so good on those 5 days a year when it's not overcast, and/or getting dark at 3:30 in the afternoon.