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