Many parents are celebrating the return of their children to the care and education of school. With these school-age kiddos back on the bus and gone for the day, mothers and fathers are free of the summer chants of “Let’s go someplace today” and “There’s nothing to do here.” While painful to fork over several hundred dollars for the school supplies on the annually growing list, many regard the cost as worth the price to get their little cherubs/monsters out of the house.
Conversely, there are those who feel saddened by the social requirement that our children be educated in order to become productive members of society. (For those home-schooling parents I know, many follow the same calendar as those who send ours off to be educated by others; as such, these home-schooling parents are, too, perhaps mourning the passing of summer.)
Another year, another set of photos, another “special first day back” breakfast, another sinking sensation watching the not-so-small-anymore child mount the steps of the bus.
For me, the return of my children to school is inevitable, unavoidable, and not worth getting either happy or sad over. But I will confess that my dismay–my blue feeling–this morning is rooted squarely in my own personal failure to have made the summer memorable and meaningful.
Not for them, but for me.
I had big plans for moving forward on the path to becoming published. (That hangs in the balance and beyond my control at this point.) I had every intention of bringing another boxed manuscript home from my printer today. (10,000 words does not a novel make.) I had a flowchart sketched out in my head linking various novels and non-fiction works and the order in which I’d conquer them. (Somehow articles at HuffPost, FiveThirtyEight, and Vox seemed to suck all my reading energies away from the list I’d made in the spring.) And on a practical note, I was not going to get too much sun. (Although it was right there in the console, I neglected to put 50 SPF on every time I was driving my semi-bored children from here to there in my convertible over these last sunny, eleven weeks.)
Back in May, I decided–I proclaimed–that I was going to perfectly balance recreation and vocation. 2016 was going to be the summer for it. A summer to remember. A summer to be proud of.
Well, it wasn’t.
And now my four children are each sitting at their respective desks, and I sit at mine. I believe that when their teachers ask, “What did you do this summer?” that each of my children will be able to share something they did and enjoyed. They probably feel like they had a great summer.
And while there were things I did and enjoyed, when I kissed my youngest good-bye, I wished that I hadn’t set expectations, months ago, for these last eleven weeks. The contrast of good intentions versus disappointing results leaves me feeling like a blew it.
I wasted the whole summer and ended up with a tan I wish I didn’t have.