As the girls have gotten older, we’ve handled some of those tricky summer weeks between school and camp schedules or around holiday weeks by sending the girls off to their grandparents’ houses. When I first typed that sentence I used the word “shipped”, but then I deleted it. It seemed a little too celebratory, and that sort of nonsense is better left to private dance parties late at night and staying in bed until ten o’clock on a Sunday morning. Last summer we had two weeks. This year – due to school and work schedules and our family’s extended travel plans – we’ve had just one. And it’s this week!
I call it grownup camp, and although we’re still working during the day, it’s a welcome break from the regular parenting schedules that occur during the other fifty or fifty-one weeks out of the year. We don’t have family nearby, so it’s just the two of us in this daily juggle to keep all the balls in the air. And I think we balance it quite well on both the macro and the micro levels. We do not take this partnership for granted, and although we occasionally test our stretching points, we make a really good team, and for the most part, we enjoy the ride.
However… I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t feel amazing to flip that switch off for a week. Not the parenting switch, or even the worrying switch. Just the micro-level juggling switch. That ever present reminder that every decision we make in a day has ripple effects on the rest of us – when we get up, what we eat, when we eat, how we’re getting where we’re going, how long it will take to get there, does everyone have shoes on for the journey, did you remember to pack your lunch, did I remember to pick you up?
The house is quiet, and that can be a little unnerving at times. But also luxurious. We set a few minor goals for the week, but have been good at relaxing our motivations a bit as we go. I took the time to think about a few things that I catch myself wishing I could do in my regular life, but that I can’t manage to work into our normal schedule – and then I’ve actually scheduled the time to do them on the calendar. My typical opportunity to run happens at the end of the work day, and as I’m running in the heat then, I fantasize about running when it’s twenty degrees cooler in the morning. So I’ve gotten up early each day to do just that. I’ve treated myself to breakfast out, with coffee someone else makes, a book – actual reading – in the morning, and no dishes. I’ve invited some of my squad out for drinks on Thursday night. I started my second book, we’re on our third documentary segment, we discussed the pros and cons of various hand soaps for twenty minutes at a shop like we didn’t have anything better to do because we didn’t. In full on parenting mode, I toss hand soap into the basket without giving it a second glance and I fall asleep in my books after falling asleep in their books first.
We count the days until they return because we love them so very much. We make the minutes count until they return because we know that they make us stronger and better at this job when we do.
F, unwrapping her new birthday pogo stick – that we sent with her to Grandparent Camp! Lucky grandparents, hehe. (There are no helmet checks required at Grownup Camp!)