This summer, I’ve been more aware of the passage of time than ever before. I think part of that is due to updating the calendar with my six-year-old every day. It’s something he did in kindergarten and will continue to do in the first grade, and I figured it was an easy way to sneak in a little learning all summer long.
So when we turned to August, and I saw that the first day of school was less than three weeks away, I felt like our summer break had evaporated without me taking much notice. Then Peter asked me how many days were left, and I turned it into a quick math lesson. We counted the days of summer break up to that point, then counted the remaining days until school started, and we added them up for the total number of days.
Eighty-one. From the day after he finished kindergarten to the day before he starts first grade are 81 days. Not even three full months. I have to admit that I feel a little cheated. When I was a kid, we were out at the beginning of June and didn’t go back until the day after Labor Day.
A little past the mid-point of July, we were invited to a play date at the beach. I was talking to another mom, whom I hadn’t seen since early June, and she asked me about our summer. I was at a bit of a loss and had to admit that standing on the beach with her and our children was the first “summery” thing I’d done. Yes, my kids had occasional play dates and day camps or classes, but I hadn’t taken them to do anything that smacked of summer.
Before I had kids, I was rarely asked the “What have you done this summer?” question. After all, if you don’t have kids, you’re not in school yourself, or you’re not a teacher, summer is merely a hotter time of year. And when you live in Florida, it’s hot about eleven-and-a-half months, anyway, so it all kind of runs together.
But this summer, I’ve encountered this question a lot, and I’ve finally resorted to the, “It’s been very busy” answer. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I have completed three big projects since the end of the school year, but for every one of these projects, I’ve picked up at least one more. So my busy-ness has just shifted into other areas.
I’m not complaining. I love freelance writing and the flexibility of being able to go to the store when I need and to be available to take my sons to their various activities. Even being busy isn’t all that bad, except that I’ve had to utilize to-do lists more than ever in my life the last couple months because, otherwise, I might forget to brush my teeth or something.
I will have to say, though, that some things have suffered. Like the house. Because of my husband’s odd work hours, it seems that the only days he’s available to mow the lawn are when it rains. Consequently, our grass grows so thick and so high that we run through lawn mowers like candy. We finally gave in and hired a lawn guy (something I’d been rooting for since last fall), and when he showed up one morning this week and did what would have taken Thomas two days to accomplish, I said that my dreams had come true. Of course, that’s a gross exaggeration. He wasn’t publishing my book, cleaning the house, potty training my toddler, and mowing the lawn, but I’ll take what I can get.
As for the interior of the house, it’s been the pits since before spring break, which was in March. People say that trying to clean while you have kids is like trying to shovel snow in a blizzard, which is true, but still. I have a nice little shelf with bins that will hold toys, if only the kids will use it. Then my elder son decided he wanted to sleep on the floor over eight months ago, and he’s slept there ever since. (Really – check out the picture.) So his floor is mostly taken up with a sleeping bag, which never gets picked up. Every once in a while, it gets so messed up that I straighten it, only to find a number of toys that we thought had disappeared.
With my summer dwindling – and although I’ve been busy, I have more free time now than I will when I start substitute teaching again – I need to take care of my house before it gets even more out of control. So this weekend is my opportunity. My in-laws are taking the kids for a couple days, and although I swore I would clean the last time they kept the kids, I didn’t. But this time, I’m tackling the mess. I’ll tell you, there’s nothing like being able to vacuum at three in the morning and not bother anyone, except for maybe the cat. (And sleep late because no one’s going to yell, “Mommy!” at six A.M.) It’s also nice to be able to pack away toys that my boys will never miss and donate them to children who will actually play with them instead of leaving them in the middle of the foyer.
So my life has come to this: it makes my day to pay someone to mow the lawn and to get rid of my kids long enough to clean up after them. Am I nuts, or what? My mommy-cation is not glamorous, nothing to write home about (although it does make for a convenient blog topic). And after all, my six-year-old gave Thomas and me his blessing to go out and have ice cream, see a movie, and have a romantic dinner. So, who knows? We may take him up on it… and come home to a house that looks like it belongs to civilized people.