Confession time: Not only do I not want school to start and summer to end, I’m actually scared about it.
Okay, maybe scared isn’t the right word. “Scared” conjures up how I feel on those nights when I’m checking closets, armed with a baseball bat. And I can’t say I’m that keyed up.
But I am stressed. Anxious. Sad… This is my first summer with the kids that I really, really don’t want to end. In the past, when they weren’t in school, it didn’t matter. I mean, of course it was like every year, and I felt like a complete failure for not doing enough “summery stuff,” but when summer ended, life just went on as usual. When they did start school, summer felt like a bit of a punishment, and I was sort of half-begging for it to end because I needed a break so badly. But this year?
This year, the kids didn’t even do any camps or organized activities that would get them out of my hair, and we still did fine. Sure, we had our moments, but for the most part, they entertained themselves and even got their own food about half the time. I felt like a reasonably decent parent because I taught them to do a little cooking and asked them to help around the house. They played tennis, we read a ton of Harry Potter, and we actually managed to arrange play dates (which is always talked about and never done).
And the fact is, I’m going to miss all the built-in parts of summer that make me feel like a better mom. I’m going to miss not flipping out in the morning so everyone will get out of the house on time. I’m going to miss lingering at the dinner table because someone wants to talk in depth about “the effects of reality television on society” and not feeling like I have to get everyone moving to take showers, do dishes, and make lunches. I’m going to miss reading “just one more chapter” of Harry Potter because how could you stop here? Yes, it’s late, but how could you possibly stop here?
So it’s been a good summer. A low stress summer. I’ve been working hard at getting more sleep because my husband (the doctor) thinks my underlying chronic pain/fibromyalgia problem may be that I have adrenal fatigue (in other words, my adrenal glands are totally shot, which isn’t good because you need those to, you know, function). Part of rebuilding them includes sleeping enough and not stressing out. So if I’ve felt particularly bad on any given day, I sleep late. And if I need a nap, I take one. And if I start getting stressed, I walk around breathing deeply and chanting “Om” (okay, that part’s not true — I really need something that doesn’t make me look like I just got back from yoga camp and can’t re-assimilate).
But now, we go back to the grind. The enforced schedule may help my sleep if I can get to bed early enough. But my body doesn’t seem to like going to bed at 10 or 11, so I usually end up sleep-deprived. My pain also tends to ramp up at night, which sets off a whole domino effect of not-sleeping, pill-taking, and stressing-out (especially if I know I have to get up with little people in the morning and drive them to school).
And I tend to skimp on my pain meds during school. I know logically that I don’t need to — that I can safely take them and function just fine. But it’s like there’s some uninformed, right-wing Congressman in my ear who convinces me I’m a bad person for using anything stronger than Advil and prayer. So then my boulder of pain starts rolling down the hill, and I can’t stop it without really knocking myself out at night (which leads to feeling like complete crap in the morning — good times).
So I’m nervous. I’m nervous about being required be somewhere every day again. I’m nervous about feeling exhausted at 3 p.m. when it’s time to pick up the kids and then needing to be “on” because they have some extracurricular to attend or homework to do. I’m nervous about having to “push through.”
The thing is, I’ve done this before. I know I can do it. But I suppose that after having those burdens removed, I just don’t want to. I know that sounds immature and weak and spoiled, but I’m just tired. I’m tired of always pushing through. I’ve had a hard enough time just dealing with the pain and the exhaustion this summer. I don’t want one more slice of reality put on my plate.
I like my summer meal — it’s light, unscheduled, and sometimes eaten outside or in front of the TV. No one expects much, and I don’t have to make lunches after I do the dishes. And if we eat late, it doesn’t matter.
We can always sleep in the next day.