I’m in the sweet spot of summer vacation with my kids. It’s like the second trimester of pregnancy when the nausea and exhaustion finally subside and your belly is just big enough to be adorable, but you can still see your toes. And your shoes fit and you don’t have cankles and you can sleep for more than an hour at a time and you don’t pee a little bit in your pants after you pee in the toilet and the baby isn’t nestled right on top of your sciatic nerve. But, I digress.
I didn’t exactly enjoy summers with my boys when they were babies. Saving their wet, slippery, bloated swim diaper-clad lives every 45 seconds in the pool was my kryptonite. The years are short, indeed, but those dog days of summer were undeniably long, and since I lived in a tropical climate, the days were the same in July as they were in November—hot, smelly, and filled with prayers for naps.
Preschool summer camp was a respite. I don’t miss paying the tuition, but I did love how school days transitioned seamlessly into camp days filled with structure, fun, messes for someone else to clean, and a few toddler-free hours for me to catch my breath and buy tampons at Target alone.
Early elementary school summers were marked by strong opinions. I do not want to go to all day camp or tennis camp or sleepaway camp or ANY camp. They were too young to understand I needed space and not old enough yet to let me pee alone. But camp is a must or Mommy will combust!
They went. They survived. I dare say, they thrived. At the very least, they learned how to play Ga-Ga (whatever that is). Then, we moved to a place far, far away where the locals appeared to enjoy spending endless summer days with their offspring. It was either Mars or Northern New Jersey. Begrudgingly, I assimilated.
Last summer, we dabbled because dabbling is a thing in these unknown parts. A week-long STEM camp. Boring. A half-day, week-long nature camp. Scary. (In their defense, there was an incident with a wasp nest.) A two-week stint at a traditional day camp. Too long. Then, we all got lice. The end.
But this summer?
This summer, I drink hot coffee while they sleep. They stay home for brief periods of time while I breathe and buy tampons alone. Don’t fret. There are strict rules. Also, we stay in touch with Donald Trump memes and gifs of pugs playing the piano. Our camp selections are balanced—not too boring, wasp-free, and just long enough—and we have a rhythm to our drum lesson drop-offs and library pick-ups.
I sit in the shade with a book while they do six million cannon balls off the community pool diving board. I can barely hear them say, “Mommy, watch this!” and they barely care. My ten-year-old is officially allowed to be dropped off at the pool on his own. I haven’t done it yet, but I will, because, damn it, tweens are a moody bunch.
I’m not even close to counting down the days until the alarm clock must be set, lunches must be made, and reading logs must be signed. In fact, I hope this summer never ends. I’m wise enough to know the 3rd trimester of summer vacations looms, but until then, I’m positively glowing.