Summer is almost over and the little darlings are headed back to school in about one hundred and thirteen hours (but who’s counting?).
I consider myself a good mom. Not the Mother Teresa of parenting, but, you know, solid. I don’t let my kids drink Dr.Pepper (which means that I have to drink my own Dr. Pepper whilst hiding in the closet) and I don’t let them juggle knives or watch Friday the 13th Part Gazillion.
I fall short all the time, like for example, I really wanted the kids to learn French this summer, planned to start lessons the week after school let out, 30 minutes every day. However, I only broke the French cds out of the packaging yesterday. (With 113 hours left, no one is going to be parlayvouing any time soon, if you know what I mean.) I wanted to get them on a strict exercise regimen…I think they each may have done 15 minutes on the elliptical machine in June. I thought it would be good for them to read five chapter books this summer, but I had to settle for Ninjago comics instead. So, okay, best laid plans, and all. But, despite what my husband says, I make up for my deficiencies in other ways. Really I do.
The last two and a half months have been terrific. I managed to entertain my kids and stimulate them and offer them all kinds of frolicking fun. The loss of my mom in May made me a little manic about making sure they had a FANTASTIC summer. And they did. They had a great time! And do you know what? I am freaking exhausted!
I love my kids, adore them actually. They’re smart and funny and entertaining, but they are also a lot of work! Not only are they physically exhausting (i.e. we were at SeaWorld and Aquatica from opening until closing two days in a row!), but they are also mentally exhausting. Now that they’re older, they argue intelligently. They debate with a canniness that keeps me on my toes (and makes me wish Happy Hour started at about noon).
So while I can say honestly—again—that we had a great summer, the impending start of the school year has me conflicted. Not because I’m not looking forward to sending them off into someone else’s care for seven hours a day, but because I am looking forward to it.
When other moms or dads or anyone, for that matter, ask me if I’m glad that summer’s over, there’s a little voice inside of me that whispers in my ear:
“If you were a really good mom, you’d say ‘Heck, no! I never want school to start again. I’ll miss my kids terribly. I want them home with me 24/7 because they are the best things in my life and I wish summer would last forever!’”
So I find myself stuttering. “Uh…uh…uh…” thinking that if I say ‘Yes, I can’t wait for the freaking school bell to ring Wednesday morning!’ I’m admitting that I suck as a parent, at least to myself.
I know this is ridiculous. I know that all moms (and dads) have their own personal kid-tolerance level and that by September 1st, every single one of them is ready for an asylum. But it’s that darn voice. The voice of Miss Perfect-Mom who I will never be but who I strive to be and end up continually disappointing myself.
So, by way of answer, I say, “Oh, we’ve had a great summer!” Then I let out a little shameful sigh of relief. And the other parents, the ones who have their own Miss or Mr. Perfect-Parent living inside of them? They understand me perfectly.
But I envy the parents who just lay it all out there and, without hesitation, say, “I wish school started in July.”