When we lived in Texas, I had a visiting teaching companion who spent her summers fretting over the fact that, come August, she'd have to send her girls back to school. She loved being with her daughters, and it stressed her out to put them in the hands of the public schools for seven hours a day. I had a lot in common with this friend-- we were both married to cardiology fellows and had four kids and had lived in the same town before moving to Houston, but I always felt a little bit guilty that I didn't share her ardor for summers with my kids.
Bryce and Annie go back to school on August 23rd-- that's 18 days from today, and I cannot wait. While I always think that I'll enjoy the laid-back days of summer, the popsicles, and the long afternoons reading-- the truth is that popsicles inevitably melt into red puddles on the table, the floor or the back porch, the kids beg for their reading "time-outs" (Bryce calls it the "hour of pain") to be over, and I just don't do laid-back.
I'm a much better mom when there's structure-- when I can say, "You must be in bed at 8:30 tonight because you have school tomorrow" and when I can use piano and swimming lessons as the reason why they can't have play dates after school. I'm more patient when I can escape to my bedroom for 30 minutes after lunch to read and I know that no one will be up there jumping on the squeaky bed, watching iCarly or playing a DS. They're awake before I finish my morning run, often still awake by the time I fall, exhausted, into my bed, and frequently crawl into my bed at night. I want a few hours with no responsibilities, no tattling, no requests for grape juice in a sippy, no Moose A Moose, no elaborate schemes for lemonade stands, no pseudo-swearing from my ten-year-old, no popcorn on the couch, none of the extra laundry running through the sprinkler provides, no taking everyone to the grocery store, no "I'm bored"s.
When I had three toddlers, I often felt crazy. Not just overwhelmed or tired, but insane. They were omnipresent, like a burr I couldn't shake off my sock. Now they're bigger, and during the school year, I approach a feeling of competence and sanity with Isaac and Maren around. When Maren started her hour and a half of preschool twice a week this winter, I even got three whole hours of time to myself each week. It wasn't much, but it was enough. But the summers still depress me. Isaac starts kindergarten on August 30th, and instead of feeling nostalgic about him growing up, I'll push him out the door to join his brother and sister in the big wide world.
Mostly, I want an hour or two of silence and NO ONE TOUCHING ME. No ambient sounds of video games or older brothers torturing younger sisters, no Phineas and Ferb providing the soundtrack of my life. The sad thing is, I'd probably fall stone cold asleep. Or else I'd miss them.