I have to say I’m proud of the summer that we provided for our kids this year; it was a real summer. Few obligations. Few places to be. Swim practice in the morning and the occasional swim meet, but for the most part a care free, kick back and be a kid kind of summer.
That was their summer.
My summer was preparing breakfast, and lunch, and dinner, driving them from the pool to play-dates, volunteering (way too much) for everything related to their summer activities, and every so often, when I wasn’t spending all of my time volunteering, and schlepping and cooking, I’d have time to actually clean up after all of these activities, and, oh yeah, find some time every day to do work for my client who has the incredible patience and understanding that summer vacation is no vacation at all: at least not for parents.
I learned a lot this summer.
I learned that the stay-at-home moms of my generation were absolutely selfless individuals. (I may be a stay-at-home parent now, but, frankly, 35 years ago how many stay-at-home dads were there?) While my mother kicked me out of the house first thing in the morning with the stern edict to not return home until dinner time, she always happened to be prepared and available when I’d inevitably come back home for lunch. Yes, it broke the terms and conditions of the morning edict, but that never seemed to be an issue.
There was also the daily pitcher of lemonade and iced tea, something that I grew up believing was just special to my family that I find out recently actually has a name: the Arnold Palmer. And then there were the brownies, and slices of cheese, and the Kool-Aid: at every house we bounced between there was some variation of refreshment and entertainment that allowed elementary school kids to skip through humid East Coast summers with carefree bliss.
I said to a neighbor the other day – a mother who I’d guess is ten years my senior, with her youngest child in high school – that I was having one of those days where I was asking myself, “what about me?” I was asking that a lot recently. I haven’t written or posted anything on my blogs in over two months, the amount of hours I’ve worked for my client are a third of what I’ve wanted to work for them, and don’t get me started on the progress I’ve wanted to make on my next book.
She lovingly replied, “at least you have someone you can say that too,” referring to my wife. She continued, “why do you think there was ‘mother’s little helper?’”
Her comment wasn’t to say that stay-at-home moms for generations before this had held it together with booze and drugs, it’s more that the unsung job of being a stay-at-home parent is 1000 times harder than it seems on the surface, and this stay-at-home parent, for one, is counting the minutes until summer vacation is over, to when the routine of the school day kicks back in, and I’m able to get some real work – well, work other than raising my children – done again.