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The Moms of Summer: Why I Hate Summer Vacation

There's a new Mommy War brewing, and I'm throwing down the gauntlet.

I’ve read that the Mommy Wars were over; that both the stay at home and working moms have ultimately concluded that neither camp is perfect—you’re facing mixed emotions and potential time in therapy regardless of the path you take.

Sure, we moms have our share of differences. Some of us like to nurse our babies long enough that the child can walk up and pull up our shirt; while others would prefer to scatter Cheerios and bits of American cheese on a tray in front of her child and call it dinner.

There are moms who like to have the Today Show playing in the kitchen during breakfast, bringing the kids up to speed on the latest details of the Casey Anthony murder trial; and moms who want to shield their kids from real world horrors like child murders, sexting and whatever happened to Matt Lauer’s hair.

There does, however, exist one set of mothers that I will never understand, a group so delusional that I would go out on a limb and suggest they seek help. I call these moms the “I can’t wait for school to be over” crowd.

These are the women that say things like, “I can’t wait for summer vacation to start and not be tied to a schedule,” and then they stare off into the distance, perhaps imagining their children quietly building sandcastles next to them on the beach, while they flip through the latest issue of Good Housekeeping.

Don’t these moms understand the importance of boundaries? That school was invented to not only teach our youngsters how to count and read, but also to prevent injuries?

It took me 16 years to get all four of my children out of the house and into school full day, and while I totally own the fact that if you do the crime, you’ve got to do the time, I have paid my dues to these people. They need to find somewhere else to go for eight hours every day because I’m busy.

I usually start to sweat around mid-April, when all of those end-of-the-year notices start to come home in the backpacks. I need to make plans, plans, plans to keep those kiddies moving morning through night, and prevent a repeat of summers gone by where eight pairs of eyeballs would look at me each morning, awaiting their marching orders.

I had become a cruise director, BUT I NEVER WANTED TO BE A CRUISE DIRECTOR! I’m just not that organized. Or fun.

A lot of summers, I was my own worst enemy, implementing well-intentioned programs that would ultimately torture both the children and me, like the year we unplugged the televisions in our house.

Then, there was the summer I signed everybody up for a slew of camps and lessons and spent most of July and August racing from one end of Monmouth County to the other.

We’ve tried low-key summers too, where I envisioned the kids roaming the neighborhood, the way my siblings and I did long ago. We’d throw rocks at each other, ride bikes up and down the street barefoot and stare at our neighbors’ aboveground pool, beckoning as we stood sweating in our backyard on a mid-July afternoon. 

My kids gave it a try for about 20 minutes and came back to report that the rest of the neighborhood was either at basketball camp, the beach club or on a cruise to Alaska.

These Summer Mommies are often the same ones that don’t see the logic in full-day Kindergarten. When I told two friends, with much younger children, that I had signed my youngest child up to go to a full-day Pre-K program, one of them said incredulously, “But won’t you miss him?”

He’s coming home, isn’t he? Some time apart is good for all relationships, including those that you literally gave birth to.

In two months, I will have the opportunity to really put that absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder notion to the test when my oldest child leaves for college over seven hours away.

And while in theory, it would seem like a dream-come-true, I’m finding it’s one thing to want to get them out of your hair for a few hours so you can go to the food store by yourself and fold some laundry, but it’s another to want them to disappear altogether.

Where's my beach chair?

Amy Byrnes June 23, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Hi Melissa ... I'm sad that you're sad. I, too, logged many pleasurable hours on the beach with my little ones for many summers and am glad you're enjoying that chapter of your life. I would like to suggest that once you've hit your 18th summer as I mom, which is the chapter I've entered, you might be ready for a change. And luckily, my kids know how much I love them, and we spend lots of time doing things together, like last night, when my teen-aged daughters decided to clean out all the dorky clothes from my closet. While they were trying things one and deciding what should stay and what should go, my 14 year old looked over and said, "Oh, yeah, I liked your column today."
Melissa Rogoff Kanenbley June 23, 2011 at 07:53 PM
I appreciate that Amy. We are all differant and just like the ever unresolved arguements such as breast vs bottle or stay at home mom vs working mom I can say that whether I am in my 18th summer as a mom or my first I will always see this "job" as a blessing. Similar to your statement, "I do not want to be a cruise director, I'm not that fun".. I am sure many parents' do not give themselves the credit they are deserve. Children whether 5 or 15 appreciate to explore the world around them. Whether through a great book (as my mother always wished I had), with friends, or exploring a new fun environment. To me it sounds as though your closet expedition was fun and enjoyable! Maybe you are not giving yourself the credit you deserve. Being a mom naturally makes you a cruise director. It is just a role we as mother's should all embrace!
Kathy Keane Lindenthal June 23, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Melissa, Don't let Amy fool you; she is one of the best mother's I know. She is always there for her children and is very involved. Part of the reason that I don't particularly love summer is the pressure to keep kids entertained all the time so you don't hear those words that may ultimately drive you over the edge..."I'm bored..." My children range in age from 13 to almost 18; being the one person to drive three children and their friends all over the county is more than a little challenging. It also makes it impossible to maintain a home, get a meal on the table and sometimes even get a shower in. I honestly miss the days when I could sit at the beach with other moms as our children played together in the sand, but children grow up and our lives get busier. And sometimes after taking care of everyone else for almost 20 years, you just want to get a shower in-
Shannon K. Winning June 24, 2011 at 01:52 AM
For the record - "should" should be taken out of every mother's vocabulary.
Amy Byrnes June 24, 2011 at 11:30 AM
Kath ... don't give all my secrets away!

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