Summer’s End

I’m back. I’ve been back for four days, actually. I returned very late Sunday night to a house in full quarantine and spent Monday caring for my sick family. My husband ended up staying home until Wednesday, he was in such bad shape. So far I have managed to avoid this scourge, but caring for everyone else has made it hard to find time to write.

The other thing making it hard to write is my looming to-do list. On the plane ride home it hit me like a sucker punch to the face: I only have two more weeks left with some time to myself on the weekdays. Then one week with me and both kids at home. Then summer is officially over.

It always feels like so much time when the summer starts: a decadent, luxurious expanse of weeks during which so much might get done, but in the end my accomplishments never seem to amount to much. The reality is I only ever have 4-5 hours a day to myself, and when an errand takes 1-2 hours, plus I’m trying to train for half marathon, well that time slips past fast. Not that I’m complaining. Shopping at Cost.co on a weekday morning is as leisurely a way to spend a summer day as I could hope for, and it was wonderful to be able to plan my runs at a time when they didn’t inconvenience anyone else. The truth is I also spent a lot of the summer meeting up with other people, and that is always an aspiration of mine. I guess the point is you can’t have it all, especially when you’re having a lot of really awesome shit like beautiful long runs, lunch and walks with friends, and running errands in the off hours (god I love running errands in the off hours–weekend errands suck!).

So I’m flying home and it hits me that I have two weeks to get the most pertinent things on my summer to-do list done. I drafted a list in my head, then wrote it all down in an app and as soon as the kids went back to camp and daycare on Tuesday I got started. The last couple of days have been a blur of marked off bullet point boxes as I’ve itemized the cloth diapers and put them up on Craigslist, complied the photos from our St. Louis trip and designed the memory book all my aunts requested I make again, researched humane but effective mouse traps (sorry mice, but I can no longer ignore your destructive presence in my garage), culled the kids’ toy boxes and closets, and started actually dropping off out-going bags of crap at their respective final destinations. By the first day of school I want my wardrobe to be reduced to only the essentials, the kitchen to be free of random kids cups and Tupperware without matching lids, my bedroom to be orderly (yes, even my husband’s side), and every last thing I don’t want anymore to be out of my house. I doubt all those things will get done, but a girl can dream.

In the meantime, I’m back to reading blogs again and realizing that one of the reasons it was nice to be away is the lost feeling I get when I’m reading other people’s words, especially when those other people seem to have all the answers. How is it that so many people, most of them not much older than me, seem to know exactly what they are doing in life and I’m still wandering around with way more questions than answers? I have no idea what I want my life to look like, or what long term goals I’m trying to achieve, let alone an action plan for how I might get where I’ll eventually want to go. Instead I read a bunch of people who have all those things, trying to determine if I should follow their lead. The thing is, all of their lives sound really nice, especially since they’re already well on their way to achieving their dreams (or already have achieved them) and it wasn’t even all that hard for them to get there because they are just honoring who they are, not changing to become who they want to be. In the end I just want to be living with intention, but it’s hard to be intentional when you don’t know what you’re intending. I just don’t understand how the question, “who do you want to be?” is still one I’m grappling with, but it absolutely is. And I’m worried I’m not going to know the answer until it’s too late and the habits are too ingrained and there are no opportunities left to change course.

But really, that all sounds more angsty than I actually feel. When it comes down to it I had a really good summer, my husband and I are on great terms, the downtime away from kids and work have allowed me to catch glimpses of myself as the mother I want to be, and I’m no longer just resigned to the new school year, but fostering some hope that it might be worthwhile (and I’m definitely appreciating my full salary (plus a 1.5% raise!) along with the ability to take my daughter to school).

I’m also definitely looking forward to the following school year (2017-18), which feels full of possibility. I have this coming year to really look for a new job, my kids will finally be almost 4 and 7, which seems like it will be much easier than almost 3 and 6, and my birthday will be 7/17/17, on which I will turn 37 and 7 is my lucky number so really, how could it not be a fantastic fucking year?! (Made-up birthday numerology never lies.)

So that is where I’m at. I wanted my first post back to be about the amazing time I had in Colorado with three women that I knew but had never met, but I needed to get this out first (and now that I have, that post should be up quickly). The end of summer is always hard, but I also always find a small seedling of hope sprouting inside me, despite the challenges to come. At the beginning of this summer I felt beat down and broken, but now I feel ready to start again. If that doesn’t suggest a worthwhile six weeks (no matter what officially got done), I don’t know what does.

How was your summer? Do you feel ready for the new school year to begin?

16 Comments

  1. I am over 70. Most of my friends are too and I have known many of them since before your age. I always thought they were totally together and wondered why I wasn’t. The reality is now being confessed: that they didn’t know what they were doing either and were desperate to appear to be grown up and in control. SO when you read those “I am in control, exceeding all my aspirations, blog” remember that you are seeing only the exterior they have edited about themselves, not their interiors ~ While you are living with your interiors and not seeing your exterior.
    Very sorry you came home to illness and the chaos that comes with illness. Glad you can acknowledge the good parts of your summer. Impressed with your intended hitlist and I shall be amazed if you get even 50% of it finished but hurrah for you for setting real goals and working towards them.
    You are right, your children are growing and some parts of life will be easier ~ and other parts will be complex ~ but, because your relationship with your husband is weathering storms and still finding each other, you will keep moving forward and making progress.
    PS: My biggest anti-rodent issue is always disposing of the bodies….. hope you don’t have to do that yourself. I remember the absolute joy when I could tell my children how icky that was for me to do instead of being the ‘big brave adult’…. and they took over that job. Your children aren’t really of that age yet however. Good wishes.

    1. Ha! I’ll be surprised if I get 50% of it done too, especially since I have to spend a few days at work to collaborate with a woman I’m teaching a class with this coming year.

      As for the mice, I’m usually the one who has to deal with them (my cat has killed a couple) and I’m okay with that. I don’t love it, but I can manage it. I just need to get them out of there, they are destroying everything in my garage!

  2. One of my favorite songs is “The Story” by Brandi Carlile (Grey’s Anatomy version = awesome), in part because of this verse:

    You see the smile that’s on my mouth
    It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
    And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed
    They don’t know my head is a mess
    No, they don’t know who I really am
    And they don’t know what I’ve been through like you do
    And I was made for you…

    I’ve been asked by people around my age (34) how I’m so confident/know where I’m going. My answer is fake it til you make it, because I’m a mess too, I just know how to hide my crazy better. You’re doing much better than you think you are.

    1. I suppose it’s true that some people are faking it til they make it, I guess I’m just really impressed by their faking skills! I definitely don’t feel like I’m a convincing faker; I’m sure everyone can tell I’m totally floundering. 😉

  3. I love that song that Amanda cited.

    And I adored sitting down to have lunch with you. Thank you for making it happen 🙂 I’m proud of you for doing so well on the race.

    Stay healthy amid the scourge!

    1. You made it happen! I was totally dropping the ball and you kept throwing it gently back to me. Thanks for your patience! I’m so glad it worked out. It was great to see you!

  4. Ugh, sorry about the sickness and the to-do list. As for the “no clue what I want to do/where I want to be”, I’m definitely right there with you. I don’t get the “faking it” mentality tbh. I mean, I DO fake cheerfulness/confidence when I’m at work and with my kids…but how can you fake your entire worldview? Its hard to imagine. I believe that some people think in more black/white which makes it easy to have a concrete vision of how you think life should be. When you see all the shades of gray, it gets complicated with all the many possibilities and the “what ifs”

    1. “…but how can you fake your entire worldview.” <-- THIS! I've been trying to pinpoint what about the, "meh, they are all just presenting a facade, you're doing just as well as them," argument because I also think it would be really hard to "fake" the self-confidence and total faith in the rightness of their choices that I see on so many of these blogs. And honestly, they aren't specifically telling me that I should do what they do, but they just seem so fucking happy doing what they do (and have compelling arguments for how/why their way is fucking great), and I am seemingly less happy than they are (obviously my judgement, not theirs), so who am I to just disregard their message? I have so little self-confidence when it comes to the choices I make, mostly because I don't think I make choices so much as do things because I see others doing them or they are the easiest things to do, (or I'm just making random guesses about what I should do, or am following some stranger's advice from a book), and it seems like someone else's well thought out plan has GOT to be better than my bullshit accidental path. I don't know if I'm making any sense, I had two cocktails tonight. 🙂

  5. Gearing up for the start of a new school year here also, two weeks from Monday is our first day but I have to get into my room and start working next week. I feel like I have not accomplished anything this summer! 2.5 year old twins boys kept me busy, also training for a half marathon in September. Hope you can enjoy the rest of your summer.

    1. Two 2.5 year old boys!? You must have been VERY busy. Good luck during your half marathon. I hope it’s awesome!

  6. I totally don’t know what I want to do with my life but I’m happy with what I am doing right now so i’m content to stay here until I need to/want to make a change. Good luck finishing your to-do list and continuing to train for your half marathon!

    1. I am happy enough with some parts of my life, I just worry that I’m not making enough of my choices with intention, I’m just doing what I see others do or what is easiest, and doing things that other people do, or that are easy is fine, as long as I’m doing them intentionally, and not without making a conscious choice with a well-thought out reason behind it. Does that make sense?

  7. We actually just finished our first week back. Due to a minuscule summer break I literally did nothing to plan for it. I didn’t even dig out my whistle and I’m a yard duty yo!

    About life goals; I’ve just recently achieved a signifcant one where I get out of the shower, put 2 Bobby pins in my hair and THAT IS IT. I was at 5 layers of goop, 10 minutes of styling and zero happiness about how it all ended. In April I started cutting my hair, eventually getting to a very short style, at which point I gave up all products except conditioner and it’s AMAZING. So my point is, the lower your aspirations are, the better your chances of being overjoyed with mediocracy. I hoped that’s spelled right.

    1. You make me laugh so hard. I love it.

      Honestly, I do have some LOW expectations in certain areas of my life and that really does help keep my spirits up. I do use that tactic, I promise. It’s a good one. 😉

      Also, how are you already back?! Are you at a year-round school?

  8. I agree that all those bloggers and social media posters you think have everything together don’t blog about their insecurities and fears.

    I’m so glad that the summer, however brief it has felt, has left you feeling rejuvenated.

    1. I’m sure they do present a less-than honest version of themselves and their lives, but I also think it’s hard to “fake” the overarching world view that many of these people present having complete faith in. I don’t know, maybe other people can manage that better than I could.

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