If I haven’t written in awhile it’s usually an indicator of one of two things – either I’ve been genuinely too busy or I’m struggling. Last week I was busy. This week I am struggling. Summer is really starting to weigh on me. I feel like I’m not allowed to say that because in many ways it feels like summer has barely begun. They’ve been off of school for six weeks, but they’ve only been off of summer school for just over two, and most of those two weeks were taken up with 4th of July festivities and a spontaneous mini vacation. This past week is really the first one that has been “normal.” And it’s been a tough one.
My biggest struggle is the most obvious – lack of alone time. I’ve been a stay at home mom from day one, but it’s never felt particularly easy on me mentally. These last three years once both boys were in school full time have been AMAZING. I have days to myself to work and get things done, but still have the benefit of flexibility and being around when they need me. It’s the perfect mix for nine months of the year. Then summer comes around and the lack of routine and predictable hours to myself to recharge basically do me in. It’s not even that the boys really need me that much anymore at 10 and 8. But the weight of responsibility for them doesn’t go away! They still need to be fed and monitored to make sure they’re not sneaking too many snacks. They still expect to be entertained or constantly given things to do or ideas of ways to spend their time. I still need to constantly be breaking up fights and trying to enforce punishments when things get out of hand. And on top of it all – they’re staying up later at night AND waking up earlier than they ever did during the school year! Meanwhile I’m still going to bed at the same time and waking up a tad bit later than I used to, so I almost never have any break from them. Or at least a break from the responsibility and need to be ON all the time.
While I am desperately needing more time to myself, I’m also struggling with friendships. Again. (As always?) Or lack thereof. I don’t know how to stay in touch with people. And if we’re not in touch I feel like we’re not really friends. I’ve been fairly busy this summer – much busier than in years past. It’s making me a lot more compassionate and understanding when my friends are also busy. At the same time – can’t we all make getting together a higher priority? And then when I do see people just by running into them by accident, I am so horribly awkward. I want to just be close to people without all the embarrassing and stilted small talk. And you don’t reach that level of familiarity with someone unless you actually do the work and spend time with them. And NOBODY has the time! It’s an endless cycle of craving connection with other women so desperately, putting myself out there to try and schedule something, almost always getting rejected – or at least feeling rejected – and then I crawl back into my shell and give up until the loneliness gets so strong that I try again. I somehow thought it would be easier as my kids got older. It’s not. Everyone is busier than ever. The mom guilt is strong in not wanting to miss anything our kids are doing. And then we’re all too tired after work and family time to muster up any remaining energy for each other. The hardest part for me to make peace with is that I feel like I’m alone in this loneliness.
And of course in summer with kids home there’s also just the lack of freedom to really do the things I want to do when I want to do them. During the school year I’d usually go out and run errands twice a week. I love errands! Now, I have to bring them with me and they’re HORRIFIC in stores. So we just don’t go. I’ve been needing to go to Costco for two weeks now and I just can’t bring myself to go when it means bringing them with me. I’ve actually managed to avoid shopping with them this entire summer – until we stopped at Target the other day. All I needed was dog food! And they spent the whole time in the store wrestling with each other, Caden taking Shepard’s hat and throwing it around, fighting over the cart, running into people and knocking stuff from the shelves. It’s absolutely ridiculous how they act in a store when they’re “bored.” And that was one store for one item!
And finally – work. I’m still trying to work a mostly full time job while also keeping my kids happy and filled with fun memories of time spent together. Which means I need to do the bulk of my sewing at night and on weekends. And that’s a lifestyle I don’t like to maintain. It’s leaving very little room for reading or resting or walking Annie or just having any kind of fun. I’ve become the kind of person that feels like an utter failure if I’m not doing something productive every minute of every day. And I don’t want to be that kind of person! Especially not in summer. But work isn’t going away and I need to fit it in when I can. I’m just getting really burned out from it all.
Anyway! Vent portion of this post over. Time for reflections.
I spent last week with the boys on a spontaneous vacation to Three Bears Resort in Warrens. It was a really fun time! But I’ll write more on that in a separate post.
Last Friday we spent the afternoon and evening with the in-laws, visiting with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law who were just there together for the evening. Unfortunately, after three days of vacation – and even more strongly – four days without significant Daddy time – Caden was an absolute nightmare. So once again I got to just be the bad/mad mom – the only persona I’m allowed to have at family gatherings because the pressure to behave is always too dang much for Caden to handle. I had to take him home and he lost all screens for a week, which definitely contributed to this week being especially hard. When Caden has lost the only thing he cares about he has zero incentive to even try to be good.
On Saturday morning I got up super early to go grocery shopping before it got busy. I also went to the farmers market for the second week in a row and didn’t actually get out of the car and go in. The week before was because of storms. This time it was in a different location with a terrible parking situation and I couldn’t find anywhere to go. The crowds going in were so big that I eventually gave up. But it’s really frustrating to keep going to something I really love and not being able to actually do it! I didn’t even try to go today.
On Sunday I met my mom and we went to the annual Swan Park Craft Fair in Beaver Dam. I didn’t buy anything, but it was still fun to walk around. Then we did some grocery shopping together and had an early lunch at Cousin’s. In the afternoon Greg took the boys back to his parents’ house so I could take a nap and then Caden ended up sleeping over while the rest of us went to a friend’s birthday party at the pool. It was so oppressively hot that I left early. The terrible heat wave this week is definitely not helping my mood!
On Monday morning I had to go pick up Caden, so Shepard and I stopped at the dog park on the way, but it was way too buggy. We got Caden and then checked out the Beaver Dam dog park. I told my mom we were in town so she invited us over there for awhile where we sat outside with coffee and cinnamon rolls while the dogs enjoyed the fresh air. And then in the afternoon we went back to BD again for my sister-in-law’s early birthday celebration.
On Tuesday the boys decided they wanted to have a “rock and junk sale.” Willow was having a three day long lemonade stand in her yard, so they thought it would be fun to join in with their own table of goodies. I just let them go ahead and do whatever they wanted as long as I could keep working and didn’t need to help. I felt a little bad that nobody actually wanted to stop and shop, but they seemed to have a good time. Until they came in and Caden went totally ballistic again over something. Meltdown worse than Friday’s, but without the audience. Then they both left to a sprinkler/water activity thing at the library. Greg took them to BD again for dinner and I went to my friend’s house late at night for a bonfire. THAT was a nice end to a very rough day.
Wednesday was our big fun day of the week. My mom joined us and we went to Madison for a “foodie day.” We started at Manna Cafe to get some fancy iced lattes. I fell in love with their coffee back in December and January and haven’t had a chance to get back since! I’d still like to eat there someday, but it’s always so crazy busy. That’s a big turn off for me.
Next we stopped at the Wednesday farmers market. It was SO HOT. I didn’t take any pictures. But the produce variety has really gotten a lot bigger since the last market I’ve been to! We bought a lot of things. Then headed to Hurt’s Donuts in Middleton. This is the second time we’ve been there and the second time we thought the donuts weren’t that great. Though they have tons of crazy flavors and the boys just pick the most boring ones! I had a salted caramel with chocolate drizzle which was great – I just should have waited to eat it… I didn’t because it was so hot I knew it would melt. Maybe not the best place to have gone, but at least after trying it twice I know we’re not really missing anything!
We went to the Mustard Museum next. We usually go every summer because the boys LOVE trying out all the mustards. Caden eats mustard every day, so he loves having a chance to find unique kinds he’ll love. This year we went with a dill mustard and an extra extra extra hot horseradish mustard.
Despite eating and drinking all morning, we were hungry for some real food so we tried out this new restaurant called Bartaco. They serve everything family style/ala carte and it was really fun to pick a bunch of random things off the menu. Shepard’s meal was the chips and salsa and some plain corn. Caden picked chicken soup and Mexican corn, but they got my instructions wrong and just gave him a plain corn too. I was hoping to try the Mexican one! My mom had an Asian slaw and fresh pineapple. And I had the carne asada and mojo pork tacos. I honestly think they were the best tacos I’ve ever eaten. They really only had meat and sauce on freshly made tortillas, but the flavor was outstanding. I can’t wait to go back again! I did buy a bottle of their habanero sauce because it was so amazing.
We finished our day out with the stop at Target. I was planning to go to Costco too, but I knew we couldn’t handle it. I wanted to stop at the Columbus farmers market too, but it was just too hot. It was a busy, but really great day!
The only interesting thing we did on Thursday was go stand in the rain for the peach truck to come so we could buy boxes of blueberries. I spent the rest of the day sewing.
On Friday there were some extra relatives in town so we went over for a quick lunch and Jenga game. I was kind of reaching emotional breakdown status in the afternoon, so Greg took the boys to hang out with my brother for the night. If you’ve read this whole thing you’ve noticed that he really does take the boys out fairly often and I DO have some time to myself. But it’s always at night and it’s never predictable. I mean, it’s better than nothing for sure!! But my brain is pretty much shot by night and that’s when I’m madly sewing anyway. I miss having daytime hours alone. Productive brain awake hours.
And today I was supposed to go to a craft day, but it was cancelled so it’s turned out to be pretty free and open. I’m trying really hard to force myself to just relax and not worry about doing anything unless I absolutely feel like I want to. That being said, I think I’m going to go read!