Some days it feels like I haven’t done anything this summer except yell at the kids to turn down the iPad and that I’d be working “just 10 more minutes.” Like I’ve made dozens of pots of sloshy Kraft Dinner (I always screw up and add too much milk) and even more peanut butter sandwiches on leftover hotdog buns because I didn’t feel like going out to buy bread.
Everywhere I look, I see families that are “doing summer” better than me. Families who have weeks of vacation and weekends off together, perfect for setting out on road trips and beach adventures. Summer stresses me out because I’m not a sun person or a beach person or even an outdoorsy person. I feel like a quality summer is measured by picture-perfect, sandy-footed beach visits and therefore I always fail.
I see all of this on Facebook, by the way, when I’m on deadline and cranky and the Spongebob Squarepants theme song is echoing in my brain (“Absorbant and yellow and porous is he!”). As I’ve said before, working from home is both the best thing in the world and the worst thing in the world — and it leans towards “worst” during the summer months.
I’d been planning to send the kids to morning day camp several days a week so I could work without feeling guilty about ignoring them. They must have sensed that camp attendance would be the perfect trifecta of convenient, affordable, and good for Mommy’s mental health: they declined the offer.
I did send them sometimes and they had fun (of course), but other mornings they insisted on staying home. They stayed in their pyjamas until the afternoon, wriggling on the couch in a tangled-up pile until one of them started crying. Sometimes they drove me insane with squabbling and tattling and other times they played very nicely together — organizing pretend weddings and building bionic rabbits out of Lego.
“Only boring people get bored,” I’d tell them when they asked if it was time for a show. I let them be bored and I never regretted it, because they always ended up making crafts and forts and inventing games and teaching themselves magic tricks. The house has been way messier than usual, but I like to think of it as a character-building mess.
We didn’t go to a cottage like just about everybody else on our street, but we flew to Ontario and spent a week at my dad and stepmom’s — swimming two or three times a day. We went on two camping trips with friends — making s’mores, zooming down slip’n’slides and trick-or-treating around the campground. The kids spent a few weekends in Halifax with my mom, gleefully riding the ferry and exploring downtown and even going to the beach.
Even though we decided not to sign up for any summer sports, we did get a membership to our local pool and went for a swim whenever we felt like it. We went to a zoo, got scared silly in a “kid-friendly” (totally not kid-friendly) haunted walk through the woods, and marched in our town’s first Pride parade. We went to playgrounds and splashpads and out for ice cream.
We stayed home a lot, sure. But we played washer toss on the set we bought at the campground earlier in August. We dragged home a new-to-us playset and gave it a makeover, and now we can’t imagine our yard without it — fights over the swings and all. We hung out with neighbours and missed them when they were away (see above, RE: everyone but us has a cottage). We ate pizza and watched movies together most Friday nights.
Even though it sometimes feels like our summer paled in comparison to everyone else’s sun-kissed, Instagram-filtered adventures, it was a good summer. There was a little of everything, including boredom, and it’s left us all feeling very ready for the start of a new school year. Especially me, who may not survive another episode of Spongebob Squarepants.