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Why I Hate Summer: One Mom’s Take

I hate summer.

Wait, scratch that. I actually love summer, the idea of it, that is. Long days, carefree nights, fun, sun and hijinks. While the concept of summer is oh-so-alluring, the reality of my family's summer isn't.

Instead of this being three months of unbridled joy and happiness, for my husband and me it's a stressful time ensconced in a thick coat of guilt, jealousy and regret.

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See, we're working folk. If we aren't toiling away at our day jobs, then we aren't paying the rent. We can't justify jetting off to Italy, England, the Bahamas or to Bali for a month or two.

This is where the guilt comes in.

I wish I could provide my daughter with a month long beach house rental on the shore where we get all sun-kissed, salty and sandy. I wish we could eat so much gelato on the streets of Rome that it made our bellies hurt. I wish I could take her to the Louvre to see Miss Mona Lisa. I wish we could go to Ubud to see the Legong Dance in an ancient temple.

I know it's not right, good or productive to compare summers. I know I'm ridiculously lucky that we are having the amount of fun we are having. I just wish we were luckier.

I can't, at least right now, give her these experiences. For a mom who wants to give her daughter everything, it's is a big punch of guilt, especially when so many of her friends and my friends are having adventures like those listed above.

My Facebook feed is full of fanciful family adventures, glamorous status updates that I see while sitting in my sweatpants at my too familiar desk. Status updates that seem to scream OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST SUMMER EVER AND YOUR SUMMER SUCKS. Honestly, I do like to see the updates. I'm happy for my friends and family. Really, I'm not being sarcastic. They're seeing the world and giving their kids memories that will last a lifetime. But it would be a lie to say that it didn't give my skin a slightly greenish hue of jealousy. This is a common reaction. A study found that vacation photos caused 56.3 percent of envious feelings found on Facebook.

Then there is the regret. If only I picked a career where four-week vacations were de rigueur. If only I had planned for our summer better, making sure the stars all aligned to be able to juggle work, time off and costs. If only I had a rich aunt who left me a stately vacation house on a nearby beach. If only, if only, if only.

I have a year to get our act together, to plan, to save, to manage to take a chunk of time off.

We do try to take the weekend to get away. We're crafting up things like a maniac, which accounts for the glitter, puff balls and paint smears on the floor. We've read hundreds of book pages and gone on amazing journeys via the written word. We've loved. We've hugged. We've spent more time cuddling than we usually do during the school year. We've gone to our local beach, had a picnic in the park and hit as many local family-friendly events as we can. Still, it's hard not to compare our humble summer to those who are really doing summer up. I know it's not right, good or productive to compare summers. I know I'm ridiculously lucky that we are having the amount of fun we are having. I just wish we were luckier.

Thankfully my daughter doesn't see that thick coat of guilt, jealousy and regret we wear. She's apparently having a blast. Staying up late. Sleeping in. Watching too much TV. Eating too much ice cream. Going to crazy cool day camps. Most of this is done while I'm on the sidelines with a computer on my lap, working away, sad that I can't join her in the fun.

But not is all lost; there is always next summer.

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I have a year to get our act together, to plan, to save, to manage to take a chunk of time off. Next summer, I won't be writing this post. Instead it will be titled "Why I Love Summer: One Mom's Take" and my Facebook status will be impressive. But here's the rub: when my summer reaches a state of awesome, there will always be another mom nearby wearing that same coat of guilt, jealousy and regret I once wore.

I just hope someday we can all return it. It really doesn't look good on any of us.

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Image via Twenty20/justkry3

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