First published in the Tri-Town Transcript Aug 12, 2015
Hello Regular Readers, I hope your summer is going swimmingly and you are enjoying this heat! My hair is frizzy, my legs stick to the car seat, there is a sweat crease down my back and I am absolutely OK with every meltable moment. When we returned from vacation our air conditioning was broken. The house was like a tomb buried in the sands of the most scorching desert. But did I complain? I did not. This is the summer of our great content.
That said, when we returned from our vacation I had exactly 24 hours to unpack and launder all the clothes my girls have ever worn in order to send them right back out to camp. I may have complained just a little bit . . . about the laundry, not the heat.
But now both girls are gone for two weeks. Regular Readers will recall that they’ve gone to camp before and I always handle it gracefully. Except when I don’t.
And, I mean, they’ve never both been gone for two weeks! It means I’ll only be actively parenting for 50 weeks this year. It’s 14 days of no lunches. Two weeks without a single request to listen to the world’s worst music. 14 days where I will not need to find the urgently missing shirt that is lying in the middle of the floor, in plain sight, to any person who has eyeballs.
The point was, no parenting for long enough that it begged the question . . . who am I??
Like Jean Valjean I found myself wondering, if no one needs a snack or a ride or a doctor’s visit
. . . WHO AM I!?”
I can feel the wrath of the mommy war crusaders bending my way. But lest you get your blogs in a bunch, I am fully aware that my identity is not tied fully to my parenting. Please, I know that.
I saw the shining, play-date free, two week swath on my calendar and reveled in it. I made a list of all the important theological essays I’d write for the work I do at church. I determined I could spend hours each day reading thoughtful books, reflecting, and generally cultivating my writer, ministry, theologian side. I’d also submit essays to magazines and perhaps pen a children’s story or two I’d been kicking around.
Two weeks to explore and dream and live in bold, new ways. Like the bold, new care packages I sent to the girls at camp yesterday.
Ok, fine. So I spent my first free morning trying to put together a care package that said I loved them but wanted them to have fun. I wanted them to be kind, especially to girls who didn’t fit in, unless they also didn’t fit in, in which case they should be themselves and remember to trust God for help. I hoped they’d eat salad greens occasionally and for heaven’s sakes, I wanted to convey that they best not share their hair brushes!! I missed them, but was proud of them.
It was a lot to communicate in a package that had to be non-edible and small.
I sent them multi-colored post-it notes.
It’s possible I will not win an award for best care package. It’s also possible that it was not the best use of my parenting-free time. Except, if I miss my daughters and want to send them office supplies at camp, well then, that’s what I’m going to do. My next scintillating theological essay can just get in line.
The mommy wars can continue to fight over who we are and how we use our talents, but the reality is, it’s only a war because both sides matter. Our successes outside of our children matter, but so do the dinners and the laundry and the care packages (for better or for worse).
The success of a good kitchen dance party to terrible tween music should not be underestimated. Both matter. Both are who I am. So, whew.
I’ve moved past my existential camp crisis and am currently typing from a Starbucks. I’m simply writing for the morning. Writing and reading and thinking . . . and, you know, occasionally (frequently) peeking at the girl’s camp web cam.