Truth Tuesday: Summer Conundrum-mer

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, you woke me up in a hurry.  We were late for something and I didn’t even have time to put on matching socks, which could be because your laundry pile is so huge that I can no longer distinguish between clothes and like other clothes.  And then I didn’t even time to go outside and say hi to the morning like you always tell me it is good to do.  I kinda just wanted to sit on the swing in the backyard for just a minute in my pjs before my baby sister woke up and ruined my life (again. it happens every day).

But, you know, we had to go.  And you accused me of being grumpy when I didn’t want to brush my hair, but I kinda think you are the grumpy one.  Like, eeyore’s mom.  Eeyore’s grumpy mom.

And then when we were driving to wherever we had to go, your phone kept beeping and ringing and when I asked you questions - IMPORTANT questions - you answered like you actually didn’t know what I was saying.  Why would the answer to, “Mom, how old was Michael Jackson when he died?” be: “Probably yesterday, sweetie.”  Did he just die yesterday?  I thought he died in 1879, but I guess not.  

So, anyway, I’m writing this letter to you because last night when you were reading to me, you told me you were sorry if you had been grumpy and distracted and then you explained to me what your day was like and you talked a lot about driving me places and doing stuff for your work while I went to that camp in the morning and that other camp in the afternoon and then that class in the afternoon.  And did you know that I like almost fell asleep in that last class thingy I did?   Anyway, yeah, so, I wanted to write you and tell you that I love you and you’re the best mom I could ever have and like you always tell me, you’re doing a really really good job.  

Well, I guess that’s not really why I am writing this.  I just thought you could use the “pep talk” like you always give me.  But, no.  No, I mean you are doing a good job, but ... well, I just wish that maybe you know maybe that we could just like take a break.  And because you always tell me like all the time like every day “there’s always a solution,” I came up with some pretty cool ideas:

  •  I don’t need all those camps and things to do - some of them are awesome, but some of them I’m ok with not doing.  I actually just like the swimming pool.  And eating popsicles in the backyard.   Did I tell you how much I love popsicles, but like totally hate it when my hands get sticky?  It makes me bananas.  Anyway, yeah.  I mean, you always tell me it is good to get bored, but I actually don’t know when I would even get bored.  
  •  Why don’t you have more friends around?  We could all play - all of us kids and you grown ups too, but you probably will be serious, so that’s ok - and you guys could all do your work.  The reason I thought this is that you made me watch that really weird national geographic show and what was weird was that all the moms were around lots of other moms.  And most of them didn't have shirts on, which I'm not saying is what you should do.  No way.  But, I mean, they had lots of other moms around to talk to and when one was doing something the other one was helping out and making sure that the babies didn't go in the river.  You might like that.  And maybe you could do more work that way. 
  •  It’s kinda like after my baby sister was born, but I sort of think maybe we could just see this is as a short time thing, you know this summer thing.  Like, maybe like you always tell me, we could just do one thing at a time.
  •  You always seem better when you laugh.  I have lots of knock-knock jokes now.
  •  I know you have to work and so I decided that the only way to fix that were to be if all the people, well maybe all the people in the world, well maybe just America, like all laughed together too and decided that it was ok during summer to just get enough done - kind of like those days at school when there is a test or something, the teachers just tell us to do as much as we can and that’s it.  I mean, then, you wouldn’t have to worry so much about not helping people or getting your work done.  Everyone would be the same and everyone would get it.  And you wouldn’t need them to work so hard either.  Like that girl at Starbucks who always takes a really long to fill up your tea with that really slow water drip.  She doesn’t care at all.  She just knows it’s not her fault, the water only drips so fast.  She’s got pink hair too, mom.  Oh, and she never says she’s sorry for taking a long time.  

There’s a lot more to say, like, you know how my baby sister ruins my life.  I love her a lot and I’m glad we did that, but yesterday in the bath tub, I convinced her there was a zombie in my room so she wouldn’t go in there.  If she asks, could you just tell her that?  I think it will work.  

You’re doing a good job.  I actually mean that.  

Love love love love (unicorn drawing).  Your #1.


Courtney here.   Yes, I wrote that letter.  I know.  I'm a magician.  ;)

For real.  Ok.  Here goes.  I think the way we here in this culture deal with summer is a microcosmic glance into how we truly view and value the work women do these days both as providers and as nurturers.  And it's reflected also in how we deal with the postpartum period.  

Enough of this void, of these impossible expectations during inevitable pauses and breaks in the forward march of life.  Enough of not giving women access to sustainable, feasible, affordable, and flexible childcare.  Enough of assuming women can juggle it all.  Enough of placing our capacities for everything on the brink.  Enough of saying we're sorry.  Enough of not getting the support we need to show up in the world in all the ways we want to show up. 

Here's the normal and much voiced conundrum:  The cost is not just our own pleasure, joy, and wellness, it's also our children's unhurried, curious, adventurous childhood. 

BUT.  The trouble here is that we all KNOW this cost and we all KNOW what our kids want and need, but we live in a double bind.   We can't just throw our hands up and say eff off work, summa summa time!  No, most of us have to work inside or outside the home (no qualifications on what defines "work" here - we are all working moms), either to pay the bills or to engage in the world in ways that we choose.

Start the conversation.  The option here is not to screw work and run off to a deserted island to live off the land, nor is it to live in a constant state of busydom as we act like the transition that is summer is not begging for us to slow down.  There is a dynamic, innovative solution.  We've just been living in black and white.  Let start really becoming activists in creating workable support systems for the modern mom that allow our children to see the world as a place that values their expanse of experience over their productivity level, but that also supports the fact that we as moms have a productivity level that is liberated and essential. 

How do we serve our capacity and support our experience?  How do we finally, for once, start to solve this core feminist issue with actual solutions instead of continued subordination of our health/vitality or our professional lives?

Ok.  Back to work.  I've got less than an hour before camp is over.