Monday, July 30, 2018

Sub-Par Summer Mom

I'm lucky enough to have summers off with my children, who are now 13 and 17. Social media can be counted upon to make me feel lazy, uninspired, and inadequate. Sooo many of my friends and coworkers went to Hawaii, Mexico, Alaska, Europe...we did not. This has been the case for a long time. Mike's pool business is such that taking time off during the summer is just too hard, it's his busiest time. 

In addition, our kids have their lives rolling...Maddie retook a math class during summer school (and did waaaay better this time, yay!), so for the entire month of June, I drove her to school at 8am and picked her up at 3:30. It was a big sacrifice for her, but I think she will have a much more enjoyable senior year now. I hope! She also has a steady job and is the lead guitarist in a band that is getting steady gigs in Sacramento. Said child has a license, but no car, so I was either driving her places or she had my car. Here she is with adorable is this? These young people are TALENTED with a capital T. 

Stephen participated in Stairway to Stardom this summer for the first time, which just ended yesterday. He had stuff to attend almost every Saturday for 8 weeks, in addition to weekly rehearsals and practises. The in-store practises were at Skips Music in Sacramento, which isn't too far. The out of store practises took place at the guitarist's home, for which I am grateful to their family. What I was fairly cranky and bitter about was the fact that this home was in Orangevale and practice was 3-5 on Fridays. 45 minutes to get there and about an hour to get home. I shopped. A lot. I walked around and shopped aimlessly so much this summer that I am sick of shopping. For anyone who knows me well, this is no easy feat. The music program culminated in a final concert yesterday at noon at the Quarry Amphitheater in Rocklin.  There is no way to predict weather and the fact that California is currently ON FIRE, so it was super hot and smoky. But overall it went great, and HE did great. Did he discover his life's passion? We aren't sure, but he followed through and never missed a single practice or clinic. We are super proud of him.

So although I did not take any exotic vacations, do day trips (because no one's schedule EVER permitted this), did crafts, cooked super healthy, exercised, or had any significant adventures with my family, I did do stuff.

Here's what I did:

  • I read books. BOOKS, plural.  This lovely little pile on my nightstand is somewhat completed. I read The Handmaids Tale for the first time this summer, and Holy mother of God. Really chilling, especially in the current climate in our country. I have not had the stomach to watch the miniseries. I know it's brilliant, I know I would appreciate it, but sometimes fiction that is too close to reality just upsets me. I would rather watch insanely ridiculous things, like "reality" that is total fiction, like the stupid Housewives. Sue me. I watch all of them. I also read Lisa See's most recent was okay, not my fav. I just finished The Girl with Seven Names that is a memoir about escaping from North Korea, and it was RIVETING. It was different from other stories about the same thing...this young lady defected somewhat by accident. For anyone who is interested in learning about this kind of thing, I highly recommend it. I'm currently reading Girls Burn Brighter, which has started well! The bottom three on the pile are still to be tackled.
  • I planted flowers and then I NURTURED THEM. 

This may not seem like a big deal to other people, for whom this stuff comes naturally. I'm somewhat known to have a black thumb. I love plants and flowers, but often have bad luck. This summer, my potted flowers just worked out and I'm so excited! I chose these plants so carefully, loving the brighter colors as opposed to the pastels. My favorite color combo is yellow and purple. Just looking at them makes me feel calm and happy. Turns out you have to do more than just water them. I learned about organic bug spray and dead-heading, and so far everything is still blooming. There are more around the pool, snapdragons, more pansies, vinca, and ones I don't remember the names of. Mike built me the plant stand out of scrap wood that he had left over from another project.

  • I watched my cat relax. Yes, that is indeed an activity. This animal has got relaxing down to an art form, and just being in the presence of it is a joy. I don't think she's normal, but she brings our family a great deal of happiness, and I swear to god she lowers my blood pressure. 

  • I parented. I parented HARD. I don't have any cute pictures of this, as there wasn't a lot about it that was cute. I remember the old saying of "this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you" and I understand it now. Disclaimer...not physical pain, no one was struck! Here's the truth...normal teenagers screw up. They lie, they omit important information, and they take advantage of certain scenarios to see how far they can go. A lot of that happened this summer, and a lot of it was unearthed. It sucks disciplining a kid! It truly does...when they're grounded, you are too. When you take the car away, you have to drive them everywhere again. And then when you're in a position where you have NO other option than to take away an opportunity that the kid has looked forward to and planned for months, it HURTS! I honestly had no idea, because we have never really had to do this before. Lots and lots of tears in our home this past month, and they did not all come from the punished teenager. Their brains, man. They are so far from being fully cooked, and this is our JOB, to teach them that their decisions and actions have consequences. It's a very hard job. But we did it, and we all lived through it, at least as of today. Shortly after The Big Consequence, there was The Big Heartbreak. I won't go into details here, but it was about 250 different kinds of fucked up. The only thing that hurts a mom more than having to majorly discipline their kid is to see them emotionally destroyed and not being able to fix it. This too shall pass, but DAMN!!!
  • I worked extra. I am currently working extra, actually. Why would I do such a thing? Am I insane? Am I a glutton for punishment and can't think of anything better to do? Maybe? But I wanted to do this...partially because I can get a lot done within a very short amount of time and appear superhuman. To my folks that I am currently working with, I appreciate the kudos, but I DO NOT work at this pace all of the time. Trust me on that one. Also, I desperately need my kid to acquire a car. She has to save a set amount, and we will kick in the rest. She is about halfway there, and I'm already looking at used beaters online. Let's all join hands and look forward to the day I will no longer have to drive my children to school, at least for a year. This will be my emancipation. Getting up and just going to work will be like a vacation unto itself. 
  • I didn't kill my teenagers. At least as of 7:56pm on July 30th, I have not. I didn't take them on numerous adventures. But I did go to the movies with them, helped the girl color her hair, helped them get their rooms together, did endless laundry, drove them approximately 5,000 miles all over the greater Sacramento area and replied to ten thousand texts. 
The comparisons are what kills us, moms. I see all the adorable, sun-drenched photos and I feel lame and inadequate. I feel like I am missing out on opportunities to "make memories". I feel like I am not trying hard enough. But then I have memories of being at my father's house with my brother and his now wife, watching MTV when it first premiered. I remember being at my mom's house, both of us studying while fresh bread was baking. None of this was exciting, or took place on a beach in Greece. Despite this, the memories are sweet, and I am grateful for them. We might not be the most exciting parents in the world, we're probably in the running for the most boring. We're pretty much always on our couch, desperately looking for something decent to watch on television. But we are ACCESSIBLE. Our kids know where to find us. There was not a single moment this summer during which they needed me and I wasn't available.

Maybe I don't suck as much as I think I do. Maybe most moms are just plugging along, being available to their children and doing the best they can. Wouldn't it be amazing if there was a way we could capture such a thing on Instagram?