Thursday, June 4, 2015

Summer Fun and the Working Mom

I don't have a lot of memories of summers as a kid. I think weekends and summertime in my elementary days kind of all blended together. I remember being outside from before lunch to dusk. I remember our apartment complex had a pool and Mom would take me when she could. I remember adventures with my parents where we would go to the zoo or to a state park or other fun places.

As an adult, I long for summer break.

I want those long days where you look back and can't believe all the things you did that day. Or you look back and can't believe all the things you purposefully didn't do!

This year, more than most for some reason, my adulthood of not having a summer break is hitting me a little hard.

Not because I want a vacation or anything. It's different.

I have friends who are stay at home moms or who have summers off or who work part time and they have days at home with their kids. And they are planning trips to the park and days of kids running through sprinklers and recipes for homemade popsicles and afternoon trips to the library and lazy days by the pool.

I'm trying to pack all of that into weekends.

My kids will have memories of those things this summer. We're blessed to be hiring one of our favorite young people to nanny for us. She's mature and responsible and independent and a wonderful influence on my kids. And since my kids get to be at home for summer break, they get to enjoy all those summertime things. Coming in hot and sweaty from playing tag or basketball or jumping on the trampoline... grabbing towels and popsicles and hitting the hose to squirt down and cool off.  Our nanny will take them bowling or to the park or to a movie or to the library. They will do a summer camp at tae kwon do.

They will build memories.

Without me or dad in them.

Yes, we will have fun weekends. Yes, we will go fun places. Yes, we will have down time together.

But there is a little part of me... a full time, professional, corporate mom... who wishes I could be home and just jump outside to grab the hose and take a long drink and then spray the kids. Who wishes I could pile everyone into the car and run off to the library. Who wants to just sit on the back deck in the sun while I listen to the kids running up and down the street.

We all make our choices and then we have to live them.  And I do. Most of the time, I'm very content with how our lives work. It works well for us, for our family.

But sometimes... I wish I was the one at home, sleeping in, building forts, making popsicles, going to the park or the zoo or the pool. I wish I was sitting on my deck, listening to my kids play in the yard. I wish that summertime meant lazy days and playtime and freedom instead of summertime meaning... same day, different month.

I know other moms feel the same guilt. The same longing.

I just keep reminding myself that this is the life we chose. This is what works for our family. The choices we make now impact choices we wil make in the future. Jeff and I have certain priorities for our kids, for our family - and to make those priorities reality, both of us working is necessary.

Most things in motherhood or parenthood seem to relate to sacrifice. Summertime is just one more area where I have to sacrifice. And I could choose to focus on what I'm missing or I can focus on what I gain through my sacrifice - on why I live this way.

After all, we're all just doing the best we know how to do with what we have right now.

So I will do what I can to capture as much summer fun in my evenings and on the weekends. We will travel and play and be together. We will let loose more often and have our own summer fun. My "summer beach pail list" (I can't call it a bucket list, just can't) will have a lot of the typical summertime fun stuff on it... it's just going to happen in our own way, in our own time.

I can get upset that I'm the one missing out on the fun - or I can be content that I've done all I can to make sure they will have positive memories.

I can be bummed that I'm not the one taking them places - or I can be content knowing that being at work means that I can provide for them to have experiences they wouldn't otherwise have.

I can focus on me being left out - or I can be happy that we have someone in our lives that we think so highly of be with my kids, loving them, caring for them, being part of their childhood.

My kids will always look back and remember having fun as a family. It's just something we do. We play and laugh and dance and get silly. My kids will remember dance parties spilling from the car to the driveway (we do a fantastic family dance in tae kwon do uniforms to "Shake it Off"). My kids will remember mom running barefoot down the street after the shaved ice truck. My kids will remember doing yard work with dad. My kids will remember shooting hoops with daddy or the mini-baseball-diamond-in-the-driveway games. My kids will remember bike rides and evening walks and watching fireworks and squirt gun battles and movie nights.

And all of that is what happens evenings and weekends and days off.

Summer fun is still fun. It's just that in my family, it has a slightly different look. And in the long run, I'm really ok with that.

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg


Tricia Meyer (sunshinegirl) said...

It's kind of funny. I called my husband at work in a panic yesterday and said "What is the absolutely minimum my business needs to make this summer for us to be live like we normally do and not cut back on anything. And what's the worst-case scenario if I bring home more than before? Not finishing the basement? Not eating out?"

I was having a freak out of trying to figure out how I was going to balance spending time with the kids and working from home this summer. Which is crazy because I have worked from home full-time (sometimes full-time and half!) every since the kids were born. We juggled with everything from nannies to daycare to them playing for hours in my office. This is actually the EASIEST summer I have had it because the kids are older.

And's because of just that...the kids are older...that I am starting to feel guilty. We only have so many summers left. So I am balancing working like a fool to afford to have a family cruise with taking time off without pay to spend time in our backyard. We hold both of them important in different ways. The mom in me just wants to get it all right and make it PERFECT!

Then I remember there is no perfect. There is only "doing my best" and most of the time that's actually not so bad. So I'm in this with you, sister. It's a different struggle but it still boils down to the same thing--kids, choices, priorities, necessities.

Darling One said...

One of the reasons I like DST is because I am a working mom and that extra hour in the evening to go to the pool, chase the ice cream truck, play in the sprinkler or fire up the grill for dinner on the porch when the kids are out of school are priceless.