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This Summer Will Be Different

My kids are coming home from school for the whole summer in five hours and you can see the whites of my eyes as I power through the very last to-do list I’ll ever get done until the fall. I’m excited to say bye-bye to the early morning wake-ups and late night homework meltdowns, but I will miss the sound my house makes when it’s completely quiet except for the tapping of my keyboard.

At the beginning of the summer, I always feel dewy-faced hopefulness. We will have fun. We will get along. My kids will cheerfully do their chores and read books and remember to thank me for all the ways I contribute to their happiness and wellbeing.

By mid-summer I’m resentful of how much screen time they’re consuming and hate them a little bit for wasting their lives and myself for letting them do it. I take the evil technology away, tell them to go build a time machine with sticks and leaves in the front yard and use their imaginations and grumble grumble kids today! and shake my fist!

Their atrophied brains pulse halfheartedly, and unable to tap into any kind of creativity or inner drive, they turn on each other like Lord of the Flies. Chaos ensues, and I become the deus ex machina in an inevitable all-out battle to the death. Defeated, I hand them back their technology just in the nick of time and slink away to take Advil and rock myself in the closet.

But this summer will be different. This summer I’m starting with a plan, and unlike every summer plan before, this plan is a good plan and will endure. I’m armed with knowledge and knowledge is power. All shall bow before my powerful plan. Everything will be fine this time, because this time I have a white board with a checklist so obviously I know what I’m doing now.

We’ll road trip for fun, and everyone will get along in the car because I’ll have really good snacks and bribery. No one will lose their crap in a McDonald’s bathroom in South Carolina, and everyone will remember to wash their hands. Zero people will refuse to get out of the car for lunch and punish the rest of the family with 90 minutes of repetitive throat-clearing.

We’ll get along at the pool and my kids will be super content with their own toys and not feel the need to steal permanently borrow other families’ toys. I will not find myself screaming at them from the water’s edge in front of all the neighbors as they bob to the bottom again and again to avoid hearing me, so I sound like this:

HEY (dives to bottom)

COME (comes up for breath then right back down)

HERE (dolphin kicks to the opposite end of the pool)

GET (quick breath then back down)

OUT (hides between two inner tubes)

OF (limbs splayed out in dead man’s float)

THE (big surge out of the water like a humpback whale)

POOL (back down to the bottom)

RIGHT (paddles to the surface)

NOW (makes eye contact, looks innocent)

Child: Mom! What!? I didn’t hear you!

That won’t happen this summer. Also? I’m going to meal plan this summer. We’re going to visit the farmer’s market every week, where I’ll let the kids take turns picking out a vegetable that we’ll all try for dinner. It’ll be fun. The kids will think it’s super fun, and we’ll enjoy the earth’s bounty and our poops will be so regular. We’ll snack on snap peas and strawberries, rather than buy-one-get-one boxes of Cheez-its. We’re going to drink more water and stay hydrated and remember sunscreen.

I’m finally going to mix up that deet-free, all-natural essential oil bug spray I googled a few years ago. This is the year I’m going to get that sh*t in a recycled glass spray bottle and marvel at how the nonharmful stuff really is just as effective as the napalm I’ve been using to ward off the millions of mosquitos breeding in our backyard swamp.

We’ll line-dry our towels to reduce our carbon footprint and definitely remember to take baths more than once a week, because this summer we aren’t going to count pool time as bath time even though water is water so what’s the big deal.

This summer I’m going to be Fun Mom. You know the one. She surprises her kids with trips to the movies and never minds holding everyone’s bags while they do the water slides at Six Flags. For bonus fun in the afternoons, she pulls out the old school Snoopy Snow Cone Machine and her arm never gets tired cranking and cranking minuscule piles of shredded ice out of that thing. She suggests lemonade stands for fun and seems impervious to the summer heat as she builds forts out of old sheets on the lawn. Every other summer I’ve just wanted to smile benevolently at my children through the safety of the air conditioned window, but this summer the stifling humidity won’t cause my crotch to immediately blow up in a flop sweat the second I step outside. I will not be ruled by swamp ass this summer. Fun Mom doesn’t let a little inner thigh heat rash slow her down. What happens inside her maxi dress stays inside her maxi dress.

I’m finally going to take that social media break like I meant to five years ago. I’ll use the extra time to read to my kids more, practice math facts so they don’t get rusty, and watch those educational documentaries I told people I was going to watch. I’m going to recharge this summer, really fill my tank. It’ll be great. By the time the kids go back to school, I’ll be refreshed and ready for new challenges.

So here’s to summer. Come on home, kids. You don’t scare me at all. Not one bit. Everything will be fine.


We’re so good.