August 10, 2010

Days Off

My teaching position allows me to be a stay-at-home mom all summer long.  It really is ideal in many ways.  Except the part about transitioning back to work in August.  In some ways, it's like ending maternity leave all over again.  Eleven long, delicious weeks with my children and then WHAM!  back to school and back to reality. 

It goes without saying that I am grateful for my job that allows me to support my children.  So many of my colleagues, friends and/or neighbors are struggling with unexpected unemployment.  Many times I've felt guilty for complaining about the annoying work issues that are really just part of the daily grind--there are probably at least five people who would snap up my job if given half the chance.  So I face the beginning of the school year with equal measures of reluctance and determination.

Throughout the summer, I arranged daycare for the boys one day each week.  (I also planned for an additional day for one of them to spend with the babysitter while the other enjoyed a mommy/me day.)  I had a list of over 20 projects I wanted to accomplish on these "days off" during the summer.  The unexpected chain of traumatic events that began on our very first day of summer vacation and the expenses that accompanied them altered all of  the summer plans I had made.  Only a few of the smaller tasks on my list have been accomplished.  Sometimes I glance at the list and then the calendar only to feel a sense of sheer panic.

I have stepped it up and gotten a few things crossed off the mega-list during the past two weeks.  I must accept that there a few things that will not get done and just let go of the regret.  I will not buy a piano for the boys, I will not paint the house.  I will probably not buy new dressers for the boys' rooms.  I did buy new bathroom faucets but they cannot be installed for under $350, so back to the store they go. 

With ten days left until I return to work, I may still be able to accomplish one or two of the other goals on my list:  paint the bathroom ceiling, complete Liam's first Christmas and birthday scrapbook pages, order a new birth certificate for Henry and apply for passports for both boys.  (Someday I'll write a post about Henry's birth certificate and the fiasco that occurred when he was weeks old.  Even at three years out, I still don't have it in me to revisit that experience in detail.)

Maybe the to-do list I made in May was just too ambitious to be tackled one day  per summer week.  I didn't know that I would drop the boys off at daycare at 8 am, come home and just sit for one hour.  No matter how well I've strategized the use of each and every minute of these "days off", when I return from daycare my head is spinning.  Between the only silence I've experienced in seven days, the absence of flying Legos and the mountain of work before me, I experience a bit of shock.  I find that if I sit with a cup of coffee and the mindless chatter of morning TV for an hour, I can face the tasks ahead of me with a clearer head. 

I did not expect to miss my sons on my day off.  What's eight hours, when we're together the other 160?  But sure enough, when I'm out running errands, I miss them terribly.  I see moms pleading with their kids to stay in the shopping cart or overtired toddlers melting down at the quick lube and think, I should have my children with me.  Yes, I appreciate how quickly I can get in and out of the car, making five or six stops in the time it takes to get Henry and Liam unbuckled (car), buckled (cart), unbuckled (cart) and buckled (car) when we visit the grocery store.  Convenience and speed aside, I miss my children.  For eight hours there is no one to argue with, clean up after or pry off his brother.  I just don't understand this sense of bereftness because the rest of the week I say to anyone who will listen, "I need a break!"  (By the way, says 'bereftness' is not a word.  But you know what I mean, don't you?)

I think my boys have enjoyed the past two months of parks, pools, beaches, zoos and museums.  Bringing them joy as they grow and develop was the one unwritten goal of the summer.  All in all, it's been a successful season.

*Yes, that was a Lego that just flew behind my head as I finished typing this...


  1. You have given your boys a wonderful gift - summer with Mom. Who could ask for more? The to-do list will always be there, but before we know it, our kids will be off with their friends. I am so happy you guys had this summer together.
    BTW - if you need the faucets installed, let us know. Hubby has done all of ours. :)

  2. Remember in another 9 months summer will be back.

  3. I have loved reading about your summer & all the fun things you've done with your boys! Hopefully the school year will fly by & you'll be back to the summer fun before you know it!

  4. The time off teachers enjoy (which is the justification for the lower rate of pay)does allow us time to connect with life outside the classroom. On Monday I saw one of my favorite kids. I said, "You got taller." She said, "You got older." You got to love them!

  5. I think you are a super mom, you have accomplished so much, you have been so close to your children. They will definitely appreciate it in years to come. You may not see the rewards yet, but those little darlings will show one day the appreciation of what a wonderful mom they have! In my eyes, you did miracles this summer! Good for you!
    You should see my front yard: all full of weeds, but I can say with pride: we had a blast this summer! So lucky to be a teacher!