Summer seems to be finally here. Here in the Pacific Northwest, that means that it’s not as cold, not raining and we are all giddy for that alone. Officially, none of us really expect summer until after July 4th, which is almost always cold and gray. Then, miraculously, each year, summer just arrives. To get sunshine, and a temperature near 70 this year (this year being a particularly dreary spring and so far cool summer) can make people pretty damned happy. Throw in a trip to the Farmer’s Market (just ranked #1 in the West, by Sunset Magazine), a bike ride, or a day in the garden, and it’s a real diamond.
My summer does not feel real yet, frankly. The weather is great and does a lot for the spirit. Glad to see the sun and happy to get a chance to do things I love. However, I keep looking at he calendar and hoping for September. I think it’s because having two college age kids at home has taken a little bit of the shine out of summer. I think it must be because school is out for pretty much everyone now that more and more of my friends are sharing similar gripes. The idea that summer break will be this wonderful, restful, fun-filled vacation with our kids, just doesn’t pan out. Younger kids are not always thrilled with the fantastic camps or activities we’ve found. My youngest would be over the moon if I just let him sit in the basement and play the X-Box360 all day, with occasional shifts spent on the computer in our kitchen, or getting meals that he will not clean up. I truly believe that he would only leave the house for brief burger outings, and would otherwise sit with his head gear (not the one he’s suppose to wear for orthodontics, but the headset that hooks him up with other “gamers”) on and occasionally tell me about the great new people he’s “meeting” while playing. The point: See mom, it’s social… I’m not just hooked up to a computer.
Add to the sense that I am being battered a bit each day, by college kids who think they now know what’s the what and why they don’t need to put dishes in dishwashers, until they feel like it, there is dad. He is working all day and does not witness said events. So, I am the designated bitch for him too, because, by the time he comes home each day, I feel pretty damned bitchy. I am not sun tanned and relaxed. I have a chip on my shoulder and I dump it at his feet. I spread the wealth. I repeat the same stories each day about the injustices of kids who don’t appreciate what I do, but resent everything I do. I’m tired and cranky. I complain. I don’t like me, so why should he? No doubt, it’s true foreplay. NO? Hmm, note to self, not romantic either.
That being said, and please note that I did list my enormous short comings first, dad does seem to get off very easy around here. Yes, as I said, he works hard. And, he works a lot. BUT, he also spends quite a lot of time working out and doing things he likes. This weekend alone he has been Mt Biking with a friend and spent the entire day today (7am-10:30pm) climbing with the college kids and his friends. I did laundry, made lunch for my sick mom and took AJ to get the fishing gear squared away (something dad promised to do). He seems to look awfully good to the kids lately too, as he is not here all day to say put your clothes away, put the dishes in the dishwasher, do something! He hates clutter and mess and tells ME, but he does not tell them. I get that, as it comes under Designated Bitch. He doesn’t stay up making sure they get in ok– Yes, old habit, and I could choose to just go to bed like dad, BUT in my defense, Middle Man was caught up in the Vancouver riots, needing stitches and other medical care, and Principessa locked herself out of her car late one night this week. It’s not like I sit up and nothing happens! I will leave out illegal substances and possible girls.
Back to our youngest, Little Man: while I thought that a 2 week Fly Fishing course in Yellowstone (yes, your read that right… and I too would love to do that!) would be every (almost) 15 yr old boy’s dream: nope. Instead, I am spending each day, trying to get him excited. We’ve bought the gear, started breaking in the new hiking boots, and tried looking up fun details that should get him all sparked up. While he is coming around, I just didn’t think this would be so hard. Don’t even bring up the 2 week sailing camp he’ll do in August. According to him, I did that to beat him over the head with all of his worst fears (deep water, cold water, sailing… when I thought the fears were heights, going outside, climbing, etc). It seems I unknowingly set out to ruin his summer. While I did in fact sit down with him and tell him that we were looking at various options, and that he could have some say in the choices, he has completely forgotten that. The goal was to let him have an experience away from the rest of the family, one that would help him build self-esteem/ confidence, get him outside to do something wonderful, and have it not be a alpha boy driven experience (which he is not) where he might feel like the weak link and come home miserable.
As the youngest of three dynamic, intense and generally driven kids, Little Man has had his moments of being the low man on our family totem pole. He is very bright, incredibly thoughtful and kind (unusually so, for a boy his age), funny and outgoing and has a generally good attitude about most things. He does tend toward the “glass half empty” perspective on many things, but he’s a great kid overall. He has pretty significant ADHD and that has made high school pretty hard for him. While his teachers tell us he’s very smart, his grades seldom reflect that intelligence. Measured up against his older brother, Middle Man, who is a “golden boy” in almost every respect, it has not always been easy for Little Man to feel successful and competent. We are not doing the measuring, but it is clear that he compares himself to his older brother and that said brother does not always help Little Man feel good. It’s just a pattern they’ve developed, that we hope will ease with age and will heal with more years.
Fly Fishing, a focused and quiet activity, in the back-country of one of our nations most spectacular parks, Yellowstone, struck me as the ideal place for Little Man to help find his groove. There will be back packing to help him build some muscle (he is now 5’8″ and 104 lbs!), lots of fishing for quiet contemplation and the excitement of a catch, and some white water rafting, for extra thrills. He’s excited about the rafting and working up some enthusiasm about the rest. Today, a good friend who is a highly sought after fly fisherman, took a little while to set Little Man up with some gear and show him how to use it. The short lesson went a long way toward helping my son start to get in to the idea of this trip.
The plan was that I would make the 16 hr drive to Jackson Hole with him, drop him off and head home. Two wks later, my husband and I would head out together (B taking a wk off work), making some stops along the way and taking some one on one time away from the kids. However, having the college kids home (yes, I’m finally getting back to that point!) has already worn me thin. I have become the “designated Bitch” at home, who reminds them that breakfast/lunch/snack/dinner dishes are still sitting out; laundry needs doing; socks and other clothes do not belong in the middle of the family room floor; we are a family and everyone must pitch in; milk, eggs, bread, nutello, humus, and all the other things they can’t live without do not buy themselves and I do not like hearing “mom, when are you going to get more milk, eggs, nutello, humus..” … you get he gist. A list needs items when I go to the store. I go, no items, I pick up what I think we need… or, I frequently call home and say, “what do we need?” However, when kids are on computers or watching TV, they forget all about the Eggos they were desperate for this morning (which, ARE NOT ON THE LIST)… So, I don’t buy them. Later that day, I hear “MOM! When are you going to buy…”
It sucks. It really, really sucks. Here comes the cliche part: I did not get my Masters to be answering that and 100 other monotonous questions each f’ing day of summer. I did not work this hard to finally be Designated Bitch. This is not my beautiful house!
“And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?…Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
MY GOD!…WHAT HAVE I DONE?”
Thank you David Byrnes… I REALLY get so many lyrics now, that I thought I got when I was twenty… but didn’t.
So, Where does that highway go? It goes to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and that is where I am going too! I am taking Little Man to camp (we depart this Friday) and I am going to keep driving. I’m going on a road trip, to find some sanity. I’m going to hunker down in Jackson Hole for a few days. I’m going to drive thru’ Yellowstone (I’ve never been), do some short hikes and see the sites. I’m going to bring my lap top and WRITE. Yes, maybe I’ll actually finish that book that I’ve been working on for so long (and am so close to finishing). I’m going to enjoy sunshine and heat. Days with no condescension or snarky comments… unless they come from waitresses who deserve to be snarky. I’m going to drive across the Tetons Pass. I plan to see Bozeman and explore the area.
My goal is to spend at least a week, but I told my kids and husband that I may stay the entire 2 wks that Little Man is in camp. I am going to truly follow the road and follow my own whims. I am not going to worry about eggs, unless they’re on the omelet buffet; I’m not going to worry about clothes on the floor, unless I find someone else’s on my floor (Just kidding!, probably); I’m not going to worry about whether Luke (I doubt he minds me using his real name) the dog was walked, I’m sure that if he shits all over the kitchen, they’ll get the hang of it. I’m not going to worry about much. I plan to really savor this experience and see what I do alone with myself… besides any of the things one generally does alone with themselves. No schedule. I will come home when I’m good and ready. Like I said, I may just stay the whole two weeks. If I do, then husband can fly out to meet me and we can still have our away time. This I can be pretty sure of, if that happens, I expect that I will just be much happier to see him… then if I stay home and continue on the path outlined here.
I expect to find a whole lot of diamonds next week and the only stones I’ll be looking at will be the Grand Tetons. Carpe Diem. Ready for an adventure. Giddy with excitement– I did in fact use that word two times in this post, but who’s counting.