The Problem with Summer Vacation

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Today Kristen Howerton posted about summer vacations on her blog. She saw a meme on pinterest called 18 Summers, meaning you only get 18 summers with your kids, no pressure! Ha! You can (and should) read the whole post here: rageagainsttheminivan.com

I haven’t stopped thinking about it all day. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it all summer.

When I was a kid, there were three of us, and my mom was home with us until she started working out of the home when we were in high school. Or just before. I can’t remember. I was busy listening to music and finding jesus. So we were home all summer. Every summer. We had a pool and a million neighborhood friends. We rode our bikes everywhere, had a paper route for candy money, and swam or did gymnastics on the front lawn every day. All summer long. By the end of the summer we were bored and tired of the neighborhood and each other and ready to go back to school.

Roozle will never have that. We will always be a two parent working family. With one kid. No neighborhood kids to be found, because they, like her, will all be carted off each summer to camp after camp so we can go to work. Because for us, the summer is the same as the rest of the year. And for Roozle now, at Montessori preschool, the summer is the same as the rest of the year. Monday through Friday, she’s at school. With her friends. Doing their work. And playing outside. And after school and work, we all go home together. In the summer, we eat dinner on the porch and play on the sidewalk. On the weekends, we’re tired. We try to make it to the beach as much as we can, but it’s a lot of work and we’re already tired, and cleaning up sand and the house and all the regular stuff just makes the week harder, not easier. Certainly not relaxing, like it’s supposed to be.

Why are we all doing this? We know way less stay at home parents than work out of the home parents and lots of work at home parents who need their kids out of the home for most of the day so they can work to pay the bills. So who is this system designed for? Certainly not any of us. I dread the day Roozle is going to public school and I have to figure out not only before and after school care but also something for the whole summer. Or maybe we will hire a nanny to give Roozle the summers that I had? I just don’t understand how we’re all supposed to work full time so we can pay for health insurance, a mortgage, and the car to take her to camp and school and still enjoy summer vacation. What kind of vacation is this? The kind that looks like every other day, except the guilt is thicker, the care is more expensive and we wear sandals.

What did your summer look like?

pictured above: our neighborhood school, closed for the summer

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