I love summer. The warm weather. Getting together with friends. The beach. The pool. Ice cream. But, when it comes down to it, as much as I do not like admitting it……
I hate being a working mom in the summer.
There are lots of ways to spend the summer with kids. With two parents working full-time, we have gone the route of full-day camps. No half day programs work for us. We have been fortunate enough to find camps that my children love. But the days are long and so structured, as they have to be. Sadly, no lazy mornings over here.
Over the last few years, my work has become more accomodating. I can leave a little early multiple days a week for the camp pickups. Yet while I do appreciate this flexibility, I find myself wanting more. Quick trips visiting friends and family. Local adventures or exploration. Swim dates. Amusement parks. Days to regroup or refresh.
We have no time for that.
I wish we did not have to be so structured.
While I have been coming to work very early and skipping lunches, trying to get a full day in even with a summer schedule, my children have been transforming.
For the first time, my son went to a three week sleepaway camp, way up in Maine. He learned about it last summer and decided to go all in, foregoing the one week option available to younger campers. He was placed in a cabin with most of the boys a year older than him. Dropped in this new situation and out of his comfort zone, he figured out his way, because he had to. This particular camp allows for plenty of choice time and he took full advantage, discovering a love of pickleball and having great experiences fishing, tubing, swimming to an island, connecting with a favorite counselor, participating in color war activities and loads of other adventures. In that short time, he matured exponentially and gained such confidence. It has been amazing to see.
My daughter stayed closer to home, attending the same day camp for six weeks. While she still complains about its hills, she too has had a transformation. She was reunited with good friends who she had not seen since last summer, picking right up where they left off (because, of course, that is what you do with summer friends!) She teases lots of counselors and CITs. She sings camp songs at home and is beyond excited for the specialty days. She has had ups and downs in swimming lessons, learning to deal with disappointments and reveling in meeting her goals. She, too, is becoming more comfortable in her own skin. It is amazing to watch her find her place.
It may not be the summer I imagined, but it sure seems to be just what they needed.
And while I will undoubtedly enter the new school year exhausted, they will be no worse for wear, ready to take on all that comes next, with newfound confidence, incredible memories and dreams of next summer.