A bit more difficult for working moms.
School ended two weeks ago the way it began - with two useless half days on a Wednesday and Thursday. Of course that means that Friday there was no school. Piper used a vacation day to cover the Wednesday half day and I swapped my work at home day for the Thursday and took the Friday off.
I really enjoy being there for the last day of school. All the parents and the students in the lower grades hang around to "cheer on" the fifth graders leaving the building for the last time. The school buses are decorated in balloons and streamers and the drivers honk their horns as they pull out. This year I noticed that they put kazoos and other noise makers on every seat and that the kids were contributing to the cacophony on the way out. God bless 'em!
My neighbor and I have a tradition of our own of taking the kids out to lunch on the last day. This year she insisted that we bring two other women along and they insisted that instead of going to Friendly's like we always do, we should go somewhere that served Margaritas. I can't remember the last time I had a drink at lunch time. Maybe never.
Now these two other women have boys in Pumpkin's class, but they also have either older children who can watch the younger ones or husbands who work alternate shifts (a cop, for instance), so even though this idea started out as a kickoff celebration for the kids, the only one that actually brought her kids was me. Add to that I was technically still on the clock at work, so I did not have as many margaritas (1) or as much fun as the other women did. But I could drive home, which proved to be important.
I spent the entire time thinking someone from work might be trying to get in touch with me - just my luck. Hardly anyone ever calls me unless there's an immediate deadline, so I don't know what I was so worried about. I wound up taking a couple of hours out of my Friday vacation day to make up the time I missed as lunch hour turned into three hours. I'm good like that.
Tigger has spent the following weeks at a nearby camp that he loves. I thought about sending Pumpkin to the same place, but ultimately felt that teenagers could not handle the wigged-out nuttiness that is my younger son when he is overtired and overstimulated. Also, a 5-year old drowned in a camp pool in this state last year and that news went straight to the deep, dark place in my heart usually reserved for paranoia about my own health.
Now, why don't I have those same fears for Tigger? The pool is the one place that he has almost always behaved himself. And he's an awesome swimmer. But yeah, I feel guilty about it.
In the meantime, the woman who so bravely babysat for my kids after school has left us. It was only a matter of time. She has three kids of her own and after years of saying they were going to move to our town, they have pretty much decided to stay put in this housing market. It's not the end of the world. She was fabulous, her kids were around my kids' ages, but she was also doing double duty as a taxi service for my neighbor's kids who decided that it was okay to come hang out at my house when they were done with their homework. I'm more than happy to have to put an end to that practice. Not that they're not nice kids, but there were just too many people in my house when I wasn't there and inevitably the place was trashed when I got home E V E R Y N I G H T.
P's former pre-school teacher will be taking over, but she can't start right away. So Piper and I have been juggling our schedules to try to make it work. I realize now that we are never going to have a proper vacation this year. Maybe not next year either. The number of days that Piper and I are actually home together with the boys is going to be pretty limited as well.
I wonder if this is the curse of working parenthood, or maybe just parenthood in general - that we never get the chance to feel settled. And then some days, I suppose we feel too settled.
Some days I hardly recognize that this is my life. And then yesterday a co-worker announced that she was pregnant, due in December. For the first time ever, I was irrationally excited for her.