Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dear Summering Girls, (Epistolary Wednesday, August 13)

Dear Summering Girls,

Recently, my blog feed exploded with posts from various mom-bloggers about "How To Stay Sane During the Summer When Your Kids Are Home" and "How to Set Up a Routine When You’re a Work-At-Home-Mom." I know these songs by heart, I've sung them so much.

If it was just me and you at home for the summer, it would be delightful. Pure magic. But it’s not. I’ve got this thing called "Work" and these things called "Expectations" (that you’ll know not to interrupt me at certain times; that you’ll really clean your room when you say you will) that mingle with us like houseguests that just won't leave, spoiling all our fun. And these last few weeks of summer, Work and Expectations have been at each other's throats. Some mornings it's just chaos and anarchy and I have to tell Work to hush up because Expectations are just being ignored like a cast-off friend.  I mean, how can you get worse at following your Morning Routine (i.e. brush teeth, dress, empty dishwasher, eat, do math facts, read for 20) now that you’ve had the whole summer to practice? And those pink shoes on the bathroom floor--the ones that have been sitting there for over a week, the ones I’ve asked you three times to pick up--are still sitting there.

The "after" picture.
Here's a typical conversation about Expectations:

Did you clean your room?

Yes.  

Let me check it.  [Gasp] Your laundry EXPLODED in here! What happened? How could you say you cleaned your room when it looks like this?

But I did! I did clean it!

But don’t you see the dirty underwear on the floor? What about the Kleenexes wadded up next to the garbage can? I want you to Clean This Room.

I have this na├»ve belief that come August 19, the first day of school, you will magically and suddenly become innately disciplined human beings once again; you will pull Expectations out from under that heap of clothing and wet towels on your bedroom floor, dust her off, and allow her to accompany you through your day: you will get up on time;you will eat more than a smattering of Cheerios for breakfast; you will put on fresh clothes and change your underwear and empty the dishwasher all without me mentioning these things to you. A mom can hope, can’t she?

Until then, I don’t even work in the home office most of the time because if I were to do that, you'd be leaving wrappers and tissues all over the living room and I wouldn't be able to catch you in the act. Best to have you deal with it immediately, before the candy wrappers and tissues become the next pink-shoes-on-the-bathroom floor and a month goes by before I see the carpet again. I wish I was that mom who didn’t lose brain cells at the sight of garbage on the floor, wish I could just sit right among the muck and play tickle fights and video games in the evenings when I'm done working, but you didn't win that lotto, girls. You are not those children and I am not that mom and someday, when you live in your own house and you’re all grown up, if you want to never flush the toilet and let it back up and let fruit flies reproduce over your left-out glass of orange juice, if you want to sit in a dark room all day and play video games, never seeing the sun, so be it. I will love you then as I do now. But I won’t live with you.

This is just to say that I really love you and I'm really looking forward to school next week, despite the fact that junior high and fourth grade are on the horizon, whole new worlds of Work and Expectations that I don't have to manage on your behalf. Instead, I will just be Mom with Milk and Cookies at the end of the day. I'll be a Good Listener and Your Biggest Fan and I will leave lunch clean up to the lunch ladies.

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