Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Well, it finally came. I’d been dreading the arrival of this past Tuesday for several weeks. My senior daughter’s last-first day of high school, and my freshman son’s first-first day of high school.
It’s not so much the high school part that I was dreading, it was the whole “going back to school” part. Believe it or not, I actually loved school when I was a kid—all the way through my college days. Loved it! And to be completely honest, I’m such a nerd that if being a student actually paid money, that’s what I’d do for a living.
But, being the parent of students—well, that’s an entirely different matter. It’s not nearly as much fun. The way I felt about the start of this week reminds me of an old joke:
Person 1: I don’t wanna go to school, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna!!!!
Person 2: Sweetheart, you have to go to school.
Person 1: But whyyyyy?
Person 2: Because school opens today. And besides, you’re the principal.
Ha, ha! I’ve never been one to subscribe to the Staples commercial’s philosophy about back-to-school being “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Nope. For me, as a parent of students, summer vacation is “the most wonderful time of the year.”
It’s a time to say good-bye to that hectic whirlwind of school-year routines: the nagging to get homework done, trips to the store to get poster board and supplies for an upcoming project, carting kids and myself to games, practices, banquets, meetings, volunteer committees, special school events. Ugh! I’m going into hyperventilation mode just thinking about it.
Instead, summer vacation is a time to say hello to languid sunny days, the sandy beaches and white-capped waves of Lake Michigan, sitting on the deck listening to the crickets, staying up late to watch shooting stars. A time for bike rides, ice cream for dinner, campfires and s’mores. Swimming and sunshine and serotonin. Aaahhh. I’m going into daydream mode just thinking about it.
My kids have always shared my summer joy. But this year, a couple of weeks before school started, my daughter had the nerve to say, “You know something? We need school to start.”
“What?!” I cried. “How dare you utter such curse words in our home, right in front of me like that!”
She eyed me with her best 17-year-old mom look. “Mom, you need school to start. You need the routine.”
Alas, she was right. Over the past couple of months, my entire home and work schedules have literally fallen apart. One of the blessings of being a freelance writer is having the flexibility to work from home. But with summer vacation in full swing, it’s also one of the curses.
My writing projects sit on my desk, untouched, gathering dust, while the summer sunshine beckons. I neglect running weekly errands in favor of joining friends for swimming, and outdoor barbeque parties. My family dines on water, bread crusts, and the remnants of peanut butter scraped from the bottom of the jar because I haven’t quite made it to the grocery store.
When school was in session, I maintained regular work hours. I was cranking out writing submissions left and right. I was adding between 500 to 1,000 words per day to my work-in-progress novel. My errand running was prioritized and routed for maximum coverage in minimal time. There was food in the house.
Then slowly between July and August, everything began collapsing. Instead of arising at 5:00 a.m. like I was, it became 6:00 a.m., then 7:00 a.m., and beyond. Between visiting college campuses with my daughter, and squeezing those summer delights into our days, the weeks blew by and I accomplished nothing.
Well, the party is officially over. I’m getting up at 5:00 a.m. again. (Okay 5:30 a.m.—I need time to wean myself back, right?) I’m back to regular errand-running times, and set work hours. As I sit here and write, outside my window I see green leaves ruffling in the still-warm breezes, and over the hum of the computer, I can hear the crickets chirping. Sigh. Summer is…well, GREAT! But it is good to be back in the saddle again. So here I go. I’ve got a lot to accomplish before…
Christmas vacation! Yeah! My other “most wonderful time of the year!”
Image by: Merelymel13’s