Okay, so I am not sure the word vacation is the best way to describe my summer. As any parent that spends the summer home with the kids knows, it's probably the hardest I have worked in my life. I can remember summers past, sitting at my desk sad because my friends were "lucky" enough to take their kids to the beach and I was stuck at work. Fast forward to the summer of 2010, when the lucky one was me and just let me say, it was no picnic. So as the kids start their new school year, I thought I would put together my list of things I did on my summer vacation. Enjoy.
1. Turned things off - I think in one day alone I must have turned the TV off about 10 times. I am not sure how you can forget to turn it off that many times in one day, but rest assured my kids accomplished that with flying colors. Then of course there were the video games and the lights (yes, during the day) and of course the annoying humming noise that our keyboard made every time my two year old left that on. Now I am sure you are asking, "Why didn't you make the kids turn everything off?" Well, of course I tried, even threatened some type of punishment. But at the end of the day, any type of punishment that might work, such as no more video games, would have resulted in an even longer summer for me. Therefore, I sucked it up, rolled my eyes to myself and turned stuff off. In a long, hot summer one must choose their battles wisely.
2. Laundry - Okay, so during the school year there is a lot of laundry, never-ending in fact. But for some reason, during the summer there was ten times as much. Which makes even less sense when I realized that my boys would have worn the same pair of shorts and t-shirt all summer (including to sleep in) had I let them. I am pretty sure they got away it before I noticed a few times. On top of all the laundry, my oldest son would never actually put his nicely folded, clean clothes into his drawers and they would end up everywhere, to the point where I couldn't tell the clean from the dirty. I am pretty sure, however, that some of the loads came from the fact that with the summer being so hot this year, if I left the wash in the washer too long it would start to smell and I had to wash it all over again. My husband hates this, but alas, there is way more going on in my life than laundry and the re-wash is simply a causality of war.
3. Refereed fights - Now I am not sure how this works with girls because I only have boys, four to be exact, but long, hot summer days typically offers many opportunities for fights among brothers. They usually start out as one being annoyed by the other and it escalates from there. One day there was an all out brawl on the floor and when I finally broke it up I found out it started over one of them not liking the TV show. The fact that we have three other TVs in the house made no difference. Sometimes one of the boys is simply sitting too close to the other or is sitting in their seat. The problem for me is that my boys are starting to get bigger than me and I am so not getting in the middle of their fist fights, but I still have to get them to stop. I also played the he said, he said game about a million times this summer to point that I just don't actually listen to them anymore. As long as no one is bleeding and nothing is broken, I simply walk away. Again, I must choose my battles.
4. Went to the grocery store - I think that there were weeks in which I made a trip to the grocery store every day. I can remember one time, going two or three times in the same day. I would buy the food and with-in hours it would be gone. If I could bottle the metabolism of ten year old boys and sell it, I would be a millionaire. Of course this leads to my next activity...
5. Picking up stuff - When my boys eat, for whatever reason, they think nothing of throwing the wrappers and empty containers on the floor or on the couch or wherever they might be lounging. And yes, I did make them clean it up. But inevitably, by the time I came across some of the mess they were long gone for the day. And so I would pick it up. There were days when I felt like I literally followed them around picking up after them. One day, in one of my crazier moods, I decided to clean behind the couch in our playroom. I honestly found over 50 food wrappers. And my first thought was, "Seriously? When they are done eating they throw their trash behind the couch?" I should have taken a picture because I swear no one would believe what I found back there. Who raised these kids?
6. Drove far and wide
7. Made up new rules like, no weapons allowed - Okay, so I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that I would have to set rules about weapons. The story begins on my long journey mentioned above. I picked up my two stepsons about half way on the way to my in-laws. Now I know my oldest stepson has a pocket knife (thanks to the ex who bought him one at nine even though we disagreed because we he had no reason to get a knife since he wasn't a boyscout or a wood whittler or anything, but that could be a whole other blog). However, when I heard them talking about their knives and confiscated them, I was surprised to find that each of the boys had like 3 or 4. They were proud to report that one was even illegal. I am sad to report that they were mistakenly left at Grandma's house when our trip was over.
8. Learned to hate the Disney channel - First let me say that I honestly think that Disney makes 2 of every show and just replays them a hundred times a day. In all fairness I think Nickelodeon does it too. It's not so annoying when its Mickey mouse but for some reason when I am forced by my three tweens to watch the same iCarly episode 10 times in one week, I want to literally claw my eyes out. And has anyone seen Zeke and Luther? Ugh, kill me now. I did my best not to let the kids watch TV all summer, but I have to admit that a couple day here and there, I needed the break. And I would realize, like 3 episodes in, that I was actually watching this crap. I think they are brainwashing my kids...
9. Said, "Because I Said So!" a million-gazillion times - Why? Because that is how many times I was asked, "Why?" Enough said...
10. Let go a little - Being home with the kids all summer made me remember what it was like to be a kid and be completely happy watching the same TV ten times in one day or playing at the park for hours. I am, by nature, very organized and inflexible. Unfortunately, my kids could care less about my shortcomings. So I had to let go a little and realize that if the dishes didn't get done right away, that was okay. Instead, it meant more to spend some time doing silly things with the kids and creating memories that would last forever. I learned that not only would life go on, but I might actually enjoy myself a little bit.
11. Had a great summer - Now that I look back, I realize it really wasn't all that bad. (I am probably able to say that only because they are now in school) The days I remember were great. We had some really fun days at the beach and some great memories with all of our amazing friends. I may never have the chance to spend the summer with my kids again as I will be heading back to work shortly, so I know I will hold the summer of 2010 close to my heart.
12. Learned to truly appreciate stay at home moms - Okay, so I knew it would be hard. But no one ever told me it would be close to impossible. And even if they had, I would never have truly understood. I worked from the time I got up til the time I went to bed and sometimes even in the middle of the night. Because at 3 am, my husband would say, "Honey, I have to get up and go to work." Well duh, so do I! And when I am at work I don't get a break. I have no lunch break. My boss does not care that I have to pee, he gives me no privacy. I have to chase my 2 year old around, find ways to entertain him that my ten year old won't complain about. The house needs to be cleaned, the laundry needs to be done. We need food which means grocery shopping and cooking. If I were to open a grocery store, there would be a bar at the end of every isle so I could quickly take a shot before heading onto the next isle. Because taking my two year old to the grocery store is like being a contestant on Wipeout - it's next to impossible and at the end all I have to show for it (except for food) are some bruises and a headache. What I realized is that after all my hard work, I am really the only one who truly appreciates it. Some nights I would look at my sleeping kids and my clean house and feel really proud, only to be really sad because I had no boss that would recognize all my amazing effort and tell me I had done well. Now I truly understand why they say it's a thankless job. Remember, all you moms (or dads), you truly are amazing and I want you to know you do an amazing job every day!
Here's to the start of another school year! (now grab your glass of wine and toast yourself!)