For the last couple of years, we “staycation” in August as we are reticent to leave the South Sound during the summer GLORY DAYS when our town is shiny, warm, and easy-breezy. The husband takes a couple of weeks off and we pack it full with fishing, crabbing, sports, day trips, family parties, time with friends, barbeques, farmer’s markets, eating out, eating in, and just being outside. And we sprinkle in my daughter’s birthday party. Sounds fab, right?
You parents of young ‘uns know better. Yeah, it’s good times, but it’s tiring times, too. Making memories can be hard and unforgiving “work.” And with the gentle whisper of heading back to school becoming a loud scream, the time left takes on an even more frantic and “packin’ all in” pace. I personally raised the bar of “outpacing myself” this year during the stretch of August 16th through August 20th, during our humidity and late summer heat wave, mind you.
The precursor was August 13th. I was due at Jo Emery Ballet School for ballet dance class that warm summer night. The outside air was perfect, the kids were actually occupied, hubby was home, the wine was crisp and cool and I couldn’t go. Hubby and I were talking. Without INTERRUPTION! I just wanted to plant my behind on a lawn chair and just BE. But I felt guilty not going. I felt like, “God, I’ll miss out; what if I can’t go next week?” You know, there I sat anyway, and blissfully just chilled out. It was worth it.
Ah, the calm before the thunderstorm.
August 16th was my daughter’s 7th birthday and the party plans were in motion, carefully planned, and timed beautifully. Yeah, right.
Things started to break. A sprinkler head on our sprinkler system was spraying everywhere it shouldn’t, the clothes dryer wouldn’t work (with several loads of smoldering, sweaty clothes in queue plus a wet, molding load to boot), and a bathroom door wouldn’t shut properly. Leaving my poor husband to deal with these issues, I decide to take a quick shower before getting down to Fred Meyer to pick up my daughter’s cake and a multitude of last minute items I forgot to get (hello, BEVERAGES for the guests, Kim!). I decided to “speed shave” my legs. Brilliant! Two nicked up and stinging shins later, I pop out of the shower and bend over to wrap a towel around my wet hair. I discover that the right side of my nose is profusely dripping blood. I have cut it somehow, some way, and I can’t get it to calm down. I check the clock and I am twenty minutes behind schedule. I try to find a tiny, discreet bandage. No luck. So, I head to the store with wet hair and a large, Hello Kitty Bandaid plastered across my nose. Awesome.
For the party itself, I was makeup-less, sunscreen-less, and utterly exhausted thirty minutes before the guests arrive. The sad part, that this was a simple, low key party. Seriously!
Well, at least my nose stopped bleeding and the Bandaid was history and I sported a scab on my face.
But we parents, children’s party hosts, seem to acquire superhuman strength with a smile and just get through it anyway no matter the circumstances. Yet we do crack at some point. I remember many parents at the party (who also had small kids), volunteer rapid fire to help serve cake. Perhaps it was that glazed, autopilot look I had on my face that did the trick.
After the party, the house was a complete explosion of birthday party trash, mounds of stinky laundry, and soiled carpets and it was over 90 degrees. I melted into heap drinking beer and ordering things off the internet, my hands still cramped from wrestling the birthday toys out of the horrendous packaging. I looked forward to a nice sleep. No way. Thunderstorms and humidity disrupted my sleep so much so, that I ended up listening to infomercials on AM radio in the wee hours as I couldn’t settle into my book or anything really cerebral. If you want to know about “Purity” vitamin supplements, just ask me.
By the time I woke up, I was ready to call the 800 number to order the vitamins. We headed out for a planned and weary family breakfast and then to an anniversary party in Woodinville at a golf course. The party was fun, but sweaty and cold blooded native Pacific Northwesterners like me, who find over 75 degrees “oppressive,” tend to fair poorly. But here is the true party triumph: My nine year old slipped off with cousins and was found wading up to his chest in the water feature on the golf course trying to find lost high end golf balls he could sell on Ebay. I was too tired to feel freaked out when the entire serving staff and a golf marshal had a little “talk” (complete with good natured giggles and guffaws, mind you) with me. So, we got home late, with a smelly, wet child and a totally exhausted and grumpy child and the junk and dirty dishes were then in triplicate.
Monday, the 18th, my husband groggily returned to work and the kids and I stayed in pj’s until 11:00 AM. I weakly attempted to clean. We ate party leftovers, watched cartoons, and turned in early.
On the 19th, the party leftovers were waning and the grocery staples were depleting. The dryer wasn’t working again. Everyone was grumpy. I did errands and some cleaning with my eyes half shut. I can’t remember much. That’s probably good.
On the 20th, the kids revolted when I offered to cook them up a fine box of mac ‘n’ cheese for breakfast. Lengthy grocery store trips with one child who refused to bathe and brush and the other who was sensitive, and fragile, led to forgotten list items (milk anyone?) and over purchase of non-essentials (zesty garlic pickle spears). Upon the return from the store, I then cleaned the house top to bottom, room to room. I was hoping to sneak away to ballet dance class that night, but after being summoned to initiate a baby bird rescue effort that ended up going astray (the bird was fine, but my head got covered in dirt, pine needles, and bird poop), it was not to be. After wash-rinse-repeating three times to get the crud out of my hair, there would be no way to make it on time. I missed out again.
Or did I?
As the kid’s nerves of excitement, nerves of steel, and the nervous nerves of returning to school are currently in play, my nerves are a little shook too. There will be a day, a day that will be here in a blink, where it gets really quiet in the house. And that day, the house will be clean, the fridge will be stocked, and I will feel well rested. My calendar will tell the tale of earlier missed things all revisited, and with ease. Whether I am dancing, studying French, playing the flute, or sword fighting, what does it matter? It’s great to have your stuff, your deal, and heck, YOU as a whole, but I know, in my heart of hearts, I’ll remember those squished summer days with fondness, a deep breath, and a smile.
And frankly, give me some more squished days, little kiddos, and summertime, summertime, summertime any day. I’ll take ‘em, maybe not easily, but I’ll take ‘em.