Summer Vacation and Natural Selection

I won’t lie, y’all…summer kicks my rump. Hard.

School lets out next week…wait, can you hear that? That music, playing softly in the background, and growing louder day by day? Yep, it’s “the final countdown.” Groan.

While I won’t miss the 9:30 pm “I need posterboard for a project that’s due tomorrow but I’ve known about it for 3 weeks” conversations, or the “I forgot my lunch / gym shorts / homework / permission slip” mid-morning text when I’m right in the middle of something important…comparatively speaking, I would take it.

Before you roll your eyes out loud at me and make some back-handed compliment like “but April, you get to stay home with your kids all summer long…what the heck are you complaining about? You are so blessed!” Let me be clear. I am home with the kids all summer, but that’s only because I work from home.

I do not get to “stay” home with the children. I AM home with the children.

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This is NOT my happy family. This is a stock photo of a happy family, like the ones you find inside picture frames when you buy them from the store…do we need that? Do I really need suggestions as to what goes inside a picture frame? Nope. Anyway, there are like 800 kids missing.

If you have never had the pleasure of being home with your children for long stretches of time, you may have had delusional fantasies about how incredibly awesome it will be. You will all play in the sunshine, go swimming and hiking and plan educational field trips complete with organic/vegan/gluten free/dye- and high fructose corn syrup-free picnics in some wonderfully bucolic setting surrounded by nature and chirping birds. You will sit in a circle, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. And the children will all marvel at the wonder of nature and be so appreciative of all your efforts to make them well rounded little human beings.

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NOT my family sitting in a circle singing Kumbaya.

I hate to burst your bubble, people…it is absolutely nothing like that.

Less than two weeks in to the stint, the natives get restless. They are bored, they will tell me…as I am cleaning up dog vomit for the umpteenth time that day from whatever our puppy, Claire, has decided to dig out of the trash {her spirit animal is a billy goat, of this I am certain}. They will whine as I am folding another load of towels or handwashing the dishes for the fourth time that day {because, you know…why use the SAME cup?}

They are bored? Well kid, I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t exactly my idea of entertainment. No middle aged woman in history has ever run out to the tattoo parlor on a whim to get a “laundry is life” or “dishes are my jam” lower back tat because she’s wild and free spirited and wants everyone at baseball to see her naughty tattoo when she sits on the bleachers and her shirt rides up / pants ride down. Not. A. Single. One.

Trying to run two full time businesses on part time hours, 4 kids still at home, extracurricular activities and keeping up with this 116 year old house gets the best of me, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

The summer starts out fantastically, I have high hopes delusions of grandeur and then it all quickly digresses in to a “Lord of the Flies” situation.

So last year we took a vacation to Maine the week after school let out. I was excited to go, as I had never been to Maine before, but my active fantasy life takes over in a “what horrible incident could possibly happen” for weeks prior to departure. This trip I was concerned about bears and moose and mountain lions and whatever other critters were lurking in the woods. {You’ve seen “when animals attack, right?” They are called “wild” animals for a reason}.

We planned on hiking the Bold Coast, and I worried most about the then 6 year old…surely he would look like a tasty morsel for the bears! Hiking day came and I decided to bring up the rear, with the little one in front of me so I could keep an eye on him. {Because, little known fact…I can fight off bears and mountain lions with my bare hands, y’all}.

We were in the most pristine and prehistoric looking forest you could possibly imagine and everything was so quiet. You couldn’t even hear your own footsteps, the fallen pine needles were so soft.

But wait a minute…if I couldn’t hear myself walking, how would I hear an approaching predator?

About a half an hour in to the hike, I started having some difficulty keeping up. And that’s when it dawned on me: I was the weakest link…the sickly wildebeest, if you will. I watched “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” religiously as a child. I know what happens to the sickly wildebeest…I was sure to be the target of some gruesome bear mauling. I almost started crying. And apparently I watch a lot of animal shows.

Maybe I should have spent more time preparing for hiking and less time worrying about my kids becoming bear food. Natural selection will have taken its course. Well played, universe. Well played.

I can just see that snarky British talk show lady saying “You are the weakest link…Goodbye!”

I’m happy to report that no one got eaten or mauled.

Wait, was the point of the vacation story? Oh, I remember…I forgot to write about it last year and I’m feebly making an attempt to work it in to this blog post. Oops.

See? Summer started out great! What followed soon after included lots of kids sleeping in until 11ish or later, staring at the pantry and proclaiming we have “nothing” to eat, anchoring down the couch in the living room {you know, just in case it decides to grown legs and run away or an F5 twister comes ripping through our town…”poor family…they lost everything, except for the couch”}, turning in to zombies from devices and video games and bickering…oh, the bickering. All while I’m trying to work.

By the way, don’t tell me that I’m over reacting or complaining. I want you to take a moment and visualize all of this happening at your place of employment, for three straight months. Can’t fathom it? Allow me to paint this little picture for you…every day you go to work and all of your co-workers are drunk AF…and they’re ready to get their fight on. They make unreasonable demands, interrupt you at every given opportunity, repeat the same story ad-nauseum and keep searching for something sharp to fashion in to a makeshift shank.

At least with the adult drunkards, you could give them more alcohol until they pass out. They’ll eventually wake up though, demanding mac and cheese at that very moment, all the while you’ve got 15 minutes before the post office closes and you desperately need to get that wholesale package out.

If you think you wouldn’t lose your dang mind, you are either fooling yourself, or you have the patience of Job…allow me to go and fetch my sword so I can dub thee ‘Sir’ or ‘Lady’ Lies Through Their Teeth of La-La Land. Ahem.

Usually when I am downstairs in my workshop running power tools, the hum of the equipment will drown out their shrieking at one another…you know, like white noise helping you sleep at night? Sometimes I will sit downstairs and let the tools run, even if I’m not working on anything at that particular moment, glass of wine in one hand, good book in the other.

Not really, but it sounds good, eh? Besides, I figure if someone loses a finger or is bleeding profusely, someone will eventually come and find me…

So, am I blessed? You bet I am! Despite my elevated blood pressure and anxiety levels over the summer, I do realize that these years go by quickly, that they should be appreciated and not taken for granted. And that *maybe* I need to stop working 36 hours a day, step away every now and then and go do the things with them. I think it will make us all a little happier. {See, pre-summer break delusion is kicking in already!!}

And oh yeah, because I “get to stay home with the kids.” {if someone could just pony up that unlimited credit card, a bajillion airline miles, a housekeeper, a personal chef and trainer, a masseuse and a nanny though, I would totally be open to that}.

To me, being blessed doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and that you don’t face challenges or get frustrated…to me, being blessed is having all these things happen and still being grateful, with a smile on your face. And I’m still smiling. Because in the grand scheme of things it’s actually really, really funny. You know, like in retrospect.

So yes, I am blessed…but I’ve also come to fully understand why parents sometimes eat their young in the wild.

So, if you need to find me this summer, I’ll be in the basement with a good book and a glass of wine. Just kidding. Maybe.

Cheers to the summer!

Peace, love and blessings to all…

April