Summer is finally here! Woot woot! So that means we get to go to the beach, lie around, read books, drink umbrella drinks, just take it easy, right?
Ha! That’s a laugh! I haven’t done that since I was… oh wait, I’ve never done that.
I remember the summer I was 15 and I had two glorious weeks of laying on the front porch swing reading “Little Women” by Lousia May Alcott. That ended abruptly when my mother came out and yelled, “Kathleen, you’re not going to lay around reading all summer long, you’re getting a job!”
Lucky for me, I’d finished the book.
The older you get, the busier you get. It certainly bursts that childhood dream of “I can’t wait until I grow up and I can do whatever I want!”
Yah, I’m still waiting for that bliss. Now summers are taken up with household repairs, a staycation to do said household repairs, and shuttling kids off to sitters and summer programs. That altruistic idea of family time goes right out the window.
Sure, they’ve got the summer off, but you don’t. So it brings us back to the age-old dilemma of how to get in quality time with the kids.
But, let’s also not forget that a busy mom needs to squeeze in some quality “me time” too.
My “me time” is dance. Once a week I’m off to Cincinnati for two-hour troupe rehearsals. As my girl gets older I can literally feel time flying by and it ratcheting up the anxiety level more and more.
And Facebook doesn’t help with those daily “7 years ago” post suggestions. Gee, thanks FB for making time feel even more out of my control! What’s a mother to do?!
I cheat by sacrificing my “me time” for “we time” and bring my daughter with me to rehearsals in the summer (I suppose sleeping counts as “me time,” right?).
I figure I’ve got one more year where I can bribe her into it with a trip to Barnes and Noble on the way. I might not be getting any parenting wins in during the rest of the week, but I can slip one in on that hour drive.
I had that proud book nerd mom moment when she asked, “Did you remember the CDs?” referring to the latest audiobook we’re listening to, “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” by Elena Favilli. It tells 100 short stories about famous women in history that encourage young girls to strive for more.
Narrated by stars like Alicia Keyes, Ashley Judd, Janeane Garofalo, it’s enthralling without being too overbearing. Mama-daughter time, educational time, win win!
I’m sure as a library manager I should encourage you all to stop in to check out more books and audio books, and participate in the year’s summer reading program because, hey, it is super easy this time around and lots of ways for kids to win!
But sometimes even that’s not enough, and cries of “I’m bored” rear their ugly heads. I know parents who have a list of summer projects they’ll be doing with their kids. My first thought is ‘wow! That’s great!’
My next thought is ‘Wow, I suck, I’m squeezing in time everywhere I can and I have nowhere close to on project, let alone a list!’
Let it not be said that I won’t rise to a challenge though. As a busy parent, you’ve got to get a bit creative when it comes to engaging your kids and keeping up with the Joneses (I refuse to Keep up with the Kardashians).
This year, I’ve conquered this “project” thing… A.) I don’t have to have a list of projects to be a good mom, just one is spot on if you ask me. And B.) I can combine our talents to make it something we’ll both enjoy! For us, it will be a picture book about our cats.
No details have been ironed out as of yet, but she’s excited, I’m excited, and we’ve got three quirky cats as inspiration. They’d be excited if they weren’t perpetually indifferent.
Excellent first steps if you ask me. Crossing fingers that this works!
Admit it, moms, it gets harder every year to meet not only our own expectations, but those that society dumps on us too.
Heck, even writing this column has aggravated my sense of mom guilt… squeeze in more time, get your kid to read more, listen to audiobooks, blah blah blah.
At the end of the day, honestly all you can do is look at your neighbor screaming her head off as she chain-smokes in a minivan full of toddlers and pat yourself on the back, because, hey, at least you’re not that mom.
Hey, motherhood win!
Kat McKay is the manager of the Clinton-Massie Branch of the Wilmington Public Library in Clarksville. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.