I'm typing this as my little one plays a game on my iPhone and the elder sits in a wet bathing suit bemoaning the fate of her algae-encrusted surfer Barbie who stayed a few days too long in the ghetto blow up pool in the backyard that I inadvertently let become a natural pond.
"Mom. Can't you just clean it?"
"Yeah, but not now. I'll have to like dump her in toxic levels of bleach or something and I can't right now."
"But. Mom. MOM. MOM! MOM!!!!"
"MOM. MOM. MOM. Really? What's more important? Helping me work with my toys or playing on your computer?"
Summer time. Here's how it goes: You get all geared up in May and you're like, dude, this summer is going to be so awesome. I'm gonna do so many cool things with my kids. I'm going to earn massive crafty Pinterest points. And I'm even gonna make biscuits from scratch just because. You idealize movie nights and breezy dusks spent by the pool with everyone just doing their own thing. Sun dipped cheeks and inches grown, your kids will be the epitome of healthy and balanced. More importantly, they will fall madly in love with you and your mom-someness.
Do you choose a few camps to enroll your kids in, despite the ghastly and generally offensive cost? Sure. Of course. You're no dummy. You know you're gonna need a break, as much as your awesomeness will certainly prevail. And, so, you plan those camps strategically and start dreaming up long days spent taking care of yourself while your kids are busy doing campy things. Heck, you'll get a Brazilian (don't). There'll be pedicures. You'll actually read a book for fun. Lunches with long lost friends. You'll even go to bed early-ish every night and not hit the wine bottle too much so you can wake up peppy for that hot yoga class. You'll do your Momma Strong workouts every single day - maybe even two! You'll be a shiny rested orb of self-care.
And, don't forget: You'll definitely plan some amazing family vacations, because surely your wallet will still be fully loaded in spite of camp. It will be blissful, perhaps even idyllic, to surrounded by a million cousins and every member of your extended family. The kids will play hide-and-go-seek and sleep in and never complain at the beach about sand. Right? Right. Heck, even a car trip will be a blast, what with that super cool license plate game you just ordered off of Amazon - the same exact one you used to play when you were a kid!
But, wait. Hold up. Screeeeeeeeeech.
By Week 3 of summer, you're not only disillusioned but you're beating yourself up because your supermom cape hasn't shown up. And you're probably already scrounging around in your kids' piggy banks because your moola cushion is nil thanks to eating out almost every meal (no homemade biscuits) and buying that crazy ass camp supply list and those airplane tickets that literally cost more than what your yearly salary was in college. And. AND. Your kids ask a lot of questions. And get grumpy. And say MOM a lot. A lot. And they come home from camp exhausted and dirty, telling you horror stories about unqualified counselors and that weird kid who told them he wanted to kill unicorns. Oh, and zero of your magical self care plans have happened. Yeah, no Brazilian except the one you got while simultaneously on a conference call with your work (that happened, ask our consigliere).
Truth be told, this summer angst is an age-old reality. Ask your own mother and she'll tell you similar tales. But, there's more to this story nowadays. Modern motherhood brings another aspect to the summer scenario ...
Expectations for productivity.
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a work-at-home mom, a go-to-work-away-from-home mom, modern motherhood means that we all do some sort of work of some kind outside of our kids. Maybe it's a project we are working on, maybe it's school, a life-long dream, our house renovation, maybe it's a 9 to 5, maybe it's a flex-time scenario, maybe it's a blog, a movement, your own business ... we all have a lot of stuff going on aside from being mothers.
And what starts to happen is that we experience a deadly combination of overwhelm and disappointment. Which then lends itself to mental fogginess and paralysis. And the foggier and more paralyzed we get, the more we start to feel like a prickly sea urchin when it comes to our kids and we get mad at ourselves for being irritated with them and possibly saying out loud to them: "The word MOM is off the table today."
At first I thought it was me - just some sort of hot weather defect I was experiencing. A seasonal ADD PMS disorder of some kind. But, the more I talk about it, the more I hear women say the same thing: "Holy crap. My brain is gone. I feel like I'm wearing an itchy wool sweater. I can't get anything done. My kids are driving me crazy." And more and more I listen, what lingers behind the frustrations with caretaking is that we all feel we are not doing enough. We complain about falling behind. Heck, we probably are. I know I have in big ways. Have you seen my blog schedule being upheld? Um, that's a negative. And I've been tapping into our workout archives more than I'd like. And there are a gazillion emails and to-dos that just sit there each night awaiting attention. Which never happens. Because by the time I get the kids in bed, the last thing I can even muster is anything having to do with work or to-do or should. I want my time. My time.
And, you know what? I surrender. This way of being a modern mom is a serious affront to true feminism. Dang. I cannot do it all. And, what's more important is that I'm choosing to not do it all from here on out. I'm going to stop apologizing for not getting something done. I'm going to stop promising to move mountains during summer vacation. I'm going to stop wishing my kids would just find a way to play quietly so I can get back to working. I am going to stop expecting that I actually get shit done. Fuck. I'm gonna recognize that my brain is on serious meltdown ... that being a mom/caretaker/provider during the summer is a task unknown to the fragile. This is hard work. And I give myself permission to just win ugly.
And I give you permission too. I'm not gonna judge you for letting your kids watch Phineaus and Ferb for 9 hours yesterday. I am not going to dock you 25 Momma Strong points for not doing your workout yesterday or the day before. I am not going to shake my finger at you because you didn't bake a single biscuit. And I am not going to expect you to do more than you choose to do. Instead, I'm gonna hold you close by and let you know that I'm glad you're human like me. And remind you that in just a few weeks, we'll be sharing bittersweet adioses to our kiddos as they go back to school. And while we cry over time passing and kids growing and exhaustion had, I'll say:
September is the new January, bitches. Giddy up.
Until then, go take a load off and stop your belly aching. It's summer already. Chill. Out.
Oh, and hey. If you like this post, hit the little like button and pretty things will happen. Oh, and if you really like it, share it. Because sharing is good, although not according to my girls.