The summer of 2013 was a good, good summer. One of the best. The kind of summer I aspire all our summers of your childhood to be. Full of family, and pond-hopping.
Dirty calloused bare feet and fingers sticky from afternoon ice cream cones.
Bubble blowing and sand castle building.
Humid mornings and afternoon thunderstorms.
Wet bathing suits dripping off laundry lines.
Mosquito spray and sun lotion.
BBQs, even an afternoon of fishing.
Slip ‘n Slides and diving boards.
Fireflies and crickets in the garden after dark.
The North American summer experience of swim lessons at the Y and day camp and Dairy Queen blizzards.
Here are the stats of the summer of ’13 :
-Three different countries on two different continents
-swimming in four lakes, two rivers and five outdoor pools, and running through two water jet playgrounds
-playing barefoot in playgrounds, climbing tree branches, eco friendly rope swings and a swing set that Nana built in her backyard, specifically for you two, in anticipation of your visit
-taking a boat ride in which your grandfather, your grandmother and your great-grandfather were all on the boat. Four generations, fishing on a lake in Canada.
-Another boat ride off the American coast
-Outdoor meals, sunset dinner picnics next to lakes and in Parisian local parks
-finding myself in the state I was born in on my birthday, for the first time in 39 years
It had its rough moments too but overall, it was fun.
And now, we find ourselves back to the grind. Much as I love summer, I can’t say any of us are sorry to have structure back in our days (last night’s Modern Family had a funny episode on that very topic). Son, you are in your second year of maternelle, Moyenne Section. Daughter, you are still at the halte-garderie and one day of creche.
And this is, in theory, my last year of parental leave. The last time I went to work was in May of 2009, and in one year and two weeks from now, in October 2014, I will go back to work.
People often ask me, when I tell them I’ve taken a long parent leave, whether it drives me crazy, whether I miss going to work. The answer is no. It feels like such a privilege to have been able to spend the first three years of my children’s lives with them. I sometimes feel, and I don’t mean this badly, but I think that mothers always have so much guilt about whatever they choose to do, be it SAHMing or working, that I feel when they ask me this, they are hoping I will say, yes, it drives me crazy, because that is certainly how most of the moms I know feel. And I get that. It’s definitely not easy and you definitely drive me crazy. But yeah, being able to stay home with you makes me feel I’ve been handed a million dollars. It is a privilege to be able to do it, and to receive money for it, and to know I have a job waiting for me at the end of it.
So, I’m planning on really being present and balanced this last year. Son, we will do the same thing where you come home for lunch two days and eat at the cantine once or twice a week. This feels like a good balance. I hope that when I go back to work, I can continue to come get you and your sister for lunch once or twice a week. I guess we will see how it goes…
Daughter, you go to the garderie three mornings a week, including Wednesday mornings when Son is home with me. On Wednesday mornings we have free play : son can play in your room with legos, or draw, or we might go every once in a while to the American Library for story time, or to the local library, or cine-gouter, or a spectacle at the library, etc.
Daughter, you are then home on Thursday mornings while son is at preschool. We will do the same : play, read books, do play-doh, go to the library, go to Mother Goose Story Hour at the American Library, or just the regular library.
Son, you have Wednesday afternoon atelier, plus Saturday afternoons you do a music/piano class. Daughter did Music on Mondays last year near the Arc de Triomphe, but sadly that is not going on this year. We might find another activity.
Or we might not. There is something to be said for not over-scheduling. For just hanging out at home, or going on walks.
I would eventually like you both to do English classes to reinforce us speaking English at home, but I feel like that can still wait another year or two. Or even more, who really knows. Maybe we can do a bit of English activity on Wednesdays. We will see. I’d also love for you to do music and swimming, and daughter to do ballet. That is just a dream of mine since I did ballet as a kid and loved it, although it’s ok if you don’t love it daughter. Son, I’d also like to get you into a physical activity, we will see what. Like I said, I don’t want to over-schedule.
Our gear is changing up too. Daughter is showing a surprising amount of interest in the potty for someone who is not quite two, so I’ve been carrying around our Potette Plus potty. The Bugaboo is getting used less and less, and the Maclaren Quest is back in rotation, mainly because it’s just easier to get on public transit with it. Son, we also got you a Mini Micro scooter/trotinette, and that makes getting around a lot faster. I don’t trust Daughter yet with a scooter, although I admit it would make life easier, but I think I’m going to wait until next summer at least, when I trust she won’t go into the street.
I’ve changed up my SAHMing gear too, I splurged on another Longchamp Pliage, this time a backpack in Bleu Marine. It matches my navy blue Converse, another SAHMing outfit daily staple. I decided to get a backpack because I really, really notice it is so much easier to carry and hold two children’s hands, or get one squirming child into the Maclaren. I can carry water and snacks and a small wipe packet in it no problem. It’s a backpack but still rather chic, so it feels like a nice compromise. I must admit that sometimes I daydream about a Mandarina Duck rolling briefcase for when I go back to work next year, to carry with my Louis Vuitton Speedy. I’ll see if I can manage it.
I’m not yet ready to go back to work, although I won’t be sad when I do. It’s so nice to have this time with you. Son, this afternoon I picked you up for lunch and we went out for sushi and brochettes, it’s so nice to have the flexibility to do this. But it’s good to be a working role model for children, to show them that Mama works, so there is time for that too.
I also have to remember to try to balance all this with my own creative growth, and to do the things that I love. Writing and blogging is one of them, I have to remember to carve out time for that. Especially going to a cafe or coffeehouse to do it. I take photos with my iPhone everyday and put them on Instagram and I love doing that. Yoga too, once or twice a week, and now that I have a Kindle I’ve been reading a lot again. I even started doing ballet again this week, after a fifteen year pause ( !!). It’s never too late to do the things you love, kids.
So that’s summer and early fall in a nutshell.