I am a teacher. Yes, that means I get summer vacation. In my pre-parenthood days I can’t honestly remember what I even did with my summer.
Oh, wait, yes I can, I went to Europe. Barcelona, Nice, Santorini.
The extent of my summer vacations now is the local neighborhood splash pad, and on a particularly eventful day we make it to the nearest theme park.
Privilege of Being Home
Yes, I understand the privilege of being home with my children in the summer. I don’t have to schedule my vacation time to be with them (although this is my vacation from a horrifyingly draining job).
I don’t have to worry about tagging in grandma or grandpa to provide childcare.
Nor do I have to sign them up for a multitude of expensive camps (seriously, who can afford those?).
In the camp of Glinda mothers who love to remind me that I “only get 18 summers with my children” I have to forcefully ask you to please stop talking.
Being home with young children is not the glorified summer Glinda, who brings home made lemonade and gluten-free muffins to the park, would lead you to believe.
I am a terrible mother when I am with my children all day, everyday in the summer.
Like awful. When my husband also takes vacation, it’s great.
We can go out as a family, but when I’m alone with them, they drain the very soul out of me, and I can assure you they have whittled so much of it away already that they are at the point of destroying the very last horcruxes I had created.
I also made seven of them like Voldemort to desperately hold on to being a human.
Everything Feels Like a Struggle
It’s not just the incessant monotony of making three meals a day (that they probably won’t eat) followed by an endless pursuit of snacks.
Nor is it the lack of routine which makes everything a little bit more difficult to do ordinary things, like basic hygiene (still have to brush your teeth, even when you are not in school).
God forbid we want to go outside so I don’t end up as the subject of a true crime podcast.
This of course only happens after a life-sucking discussion about why sunscreen is a necessity.
I then manage to proceed applying the sunscreen to children who shriek like banshees.
It is so deafening that my neighbors must think I’m waterboarding them.
When we do manage to make it out the door we inevitably must turn back because I forgot to grab water bottles and Goldfish.
Glinda will inevitably judge me for this snack while I sit under a tree alone at the park while she follows her sweet darling around frantically.
Being home with my kids in the summer makes me think of my maternity leave.
The fact that I revert to feeling like I am on maternity leave, where the entire course of my existence is geared towards preserving the lives of two vampires I created, is numbing.
Yes, it’s great to not have to rush through the morning disaster that is being on time for literally anything, but returning to being the primary coach, nurse, playmate and referee to my children takes its toll.
I yell too much when I’m with them all day.
I snap after asking them to do the same thing for the eighth time.
Sometimes when they are playing I sit and scroll through my phone because feigning interest in yet another fire truck is just not in me that day.
I look like a slob, because I know I’m just going to be cried on, snotted on or end up covered in sidewalk chalk.
I survive my summer in a collective capsule containing nine articles of clothing, including a bathing suit that doesn’t fit anymore, but I don’t have time to replace.
The fact that my job is so draining doesn’t help.
Yet, I spend my summer having absolutely no chance to recover and restore myself for the following year. This fact is starting to weigh on me year after year.
My children are still young, and maybe as they get older I will see my summers with them differently.
Maybe when I’m not held hostage by naps we can actually venture further than the local zoo, which is really quite depressing.
Maybe as they need me less I can hit the promised land where they are still with me, but independent, but before they work and want nothing to do with me.
For now, I will hold on to hope that one day when my children are old enough I can scatter some Cheerios across the kitchen island for them to navigate in the morning while I stay asleep in my bedroom that is as bleak as my swimsuit by this point.
Or even better, maybe one day I will rise to a quiet house while they are still asleep, only to frantically run into their room and tell them something that is so absolutely unnecessary at 6AM that they will tell me to get out.
Stop Reminding me About the 18 Years
Bottom line, cut the “you only have 18 summers” with your kid crap. You know how I know that’s bullshit?
Now that I have kids, I beg to spend my summers with my parents.
Grandma’s house is a weekly fixture in our summer rotation.
So yeah, maybe I struggle with spending summers with my kids now, but eventually they will want to spend summers with me again when they have their own little vampires.
Maybe then I’ll enjoy them more too.
Until then, I will hold on for dear life like the back strap of my bathing suit.