I know this is so last week, but does anybody else think it’s kind of ridiculous that Memorial Day is hailed as the unofficial start of summer? Says who? The retail moguls leap-frogging over the real purpose of the holiday to kick-start the summer buying frenzy? The movie studios who are rolling out their latest RoboTransformerAvengerCop Saves the Planet blockbusters? Perhaps. All I know is that Memorial Day has come and gone, and I am most definitely not at the beach or anywhere near anything remotely resembling a resort. I have a Hawaiian screen saver. Does that count?
If you are a mom then you know the only official thing about Memorial Day, is that it’s the official start to the countdown panic when you realize that in two weeks school is over and the little darlings will be unleashed. Release the Kraken! It doesn’t matter if you work at home as a full-time mom or work outside the home. You know that summer starts when the school bell rings for the last time in June. And you better be ready. The hunger hoards of teenagers with their battle cry, “I’m bored” are coming. And not to a theatre near you. Just near you.
Intrepid mothers know how to deal with the invaders. They schedule, they plan, they coordinate, they bribe, and, yes, even manipulate. ‘Fess up, we even threaten. “Get a job or get out.” Of course, that’s for the teenagers, but who’s to say it won’t work on an 8-year old? When my kids were little I use do all that hyper planning: swim lessons, play dates, park dates, chore charts. Partly to keep them busy and also to keep me sane and connected to other moms. We also scheduled the big two-week vacation. By late July I was exhausted, counting the days until the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: the day after Labor Day. Woo-hoo: backpacks and uniforms and you are out the door. See you in June!
But the times, they are a changing. For the first time in my 20 years of mothering, we are not doing The Big Vacation. Not adding another junior ranger badge to the 32 other national park ones hanging on the wall, not hitting the road in an RV, or cashing in our bonus points for a cruise to Alaska. Why? My kids are the ones scheduling themselves, and in the process scheduling me and dad out of the picture. It’s not intentional (at least that’s what they say). It’s just life.
The oldest, Mad Scientist, left me on Mother’s Day (grounds for disinheritance I would say) for a month stint chasing birds on Lake Superior. He came back for two days and left again to spend summer on his college campus as a research assistant. The middle child, our Design Diva is going to yearbook camp as the editor. She also has to take summer classes to free up her schedule so she has enough time to boss the staff around in the fall. And Half-pint has gone plum crazy with dance team, summer classes, voice lessons, flute lessons, and her very own summer bucket list. Dad and I are spending our June-July-August sitting at the kitchen table wondering “What just happened?” Sure, we will take a couple of weekend getaways with the young ‘uns, but somehow it is not the same. And I realize that it is never going to be the same again.
Design Diva starts college in a year and Half-pint will be right behind her. No doubt ready to flee the nest like a bat out of hell when she realizes she is stuck at home with the two oldies. Mad Scientist will be in grad school or inventing the cure for the avian flu or something equally riveting. Dad and I will be shopping for dentures.
Despite the extra work when the kids are home, summer is my favorite time of the year. I love the slower pace. I love the longer days. I don’t miss the mad rush out the door to get to school and work on time. Don’t miss the pumps or pencil skirts. I am in flip-flop heaven! I love our day long jaunts to our favorite beach, swim parties with friends, reading on the hammock. I love being with my kids, especially now that they are coming into their own as young adults. We have great conversations about life, God, and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.
I’m not saying that when the last school bell rings this week, I won’t brace myself for a crazy, chaotic household. I will. I just know now that in the very near future, the school bell will ring for the very last time and I won’t brace myself for the invading horde. There won’t be one. Instead, I will have to brace myself for the reality that summer, as I know it, will be over.