I have a hankering for Red Mango with a granola mix in. All the time. The kids go back and forth from filthy to clean but only because they’re wet from the garden hose, which I’m not socially, morally or eco-ly conscious enough to say no to. Boxes of popsicles are dusted off as soon as they’re opened. Afternoons are frittered away on stacks of library books. Okay, I’m lying: Spongebob. We’ve broken four super soaker squirt guns and now we’re on to water balloons whose plastic fragments cling to my windows and stucco. We know the lifeguards’ names at the pool. Worse, they know ours! And they yell them out loud while my kids prove their learned summer bravery: the youngest hand over hand on the wall to make it to the deep end, the older two ignoring my cries for them to stop running, to watch where they jump, to give the noodle back to the baby they just stole it from. I think nothing of spending $14 on gelato just to make it from evening to bedtime without locking my kids in the backyard and pulling my hair out while I zone out staring at the computer.
We’ve reached it, we’re here: the dog days.
The tent has been up in the backyard for too long! The laundry is stockpiling itself! Repeatedly! There are huge bits of Doritos on my deck, the extra large Costco-sized bag decimated long ago while the crumbs wilt in their own grease. My flowers have died from my lack of watering. (The kids are hogging the hose.) And when I do finally water, I watch it as it percolates down through the bone dry soil and lament my carelessness while making silent promises to not buy begonias next spring. I will forget, allured by their beauty, my grand visions of not losing all will to do anything productive mid-summer.
I just spent too much money on craft supplies for sweltering mid-day hours! I just spent too much money on books from Barnes and Noble! I just spent too much money on groceries we will never eat! My kids have had popcorn for dinner not once, not twice, but thrice in a week’s time. We’ve forgotten what bedtime is and we are like monks now—rising with the sun, going to sleep with it too. (That is the only way we are monk-ish. Every other way we are not. Except for maybe the bathing. Do monks bathe? Because, well… doesn’t chlorine kill germs?)
I have nightmares about school starting. I schedule and miss appointments with abandon. Hair, dentist, visiting teaching—miss, miss, miss. I just barely collected then trashed the burnt up firework cylinders from the 4th. I wear my swimsuit all day. (But I think I’m getting a rash, so I’m repenting and putting my garments back on. Today. Or once I find all of them in the towers of stockpiled laundry.)
Really, I love it like this. When the supernal force of my day is like ocean’s tidal shift—and I just float with it, in and out, doing whatever, whenever. I can’t help it. Really. It must be a July thing. But my husband grows tired of it, booking plane tickets for business travel faster than I can say, “Can we go with you and hang at the hotel pool?” and only kisses me when I’m wearing an apron, loading the dishwasher. Which, I must say, is quite often during these days of endless drinks and “science” experiments and no real meal times.
I’m sweaty. I’m hot and tired. I feel the physical toils of mothering down in my bones and across my back, and I night I sleep and sleep the deep slumber of a mother hard-worked. I picture Emma Smith, from the recent movie about her, as she digs in the garden and her hair falls in sweaty strings around her face and she explains the law of the harvest, her friend responding with how you reap what you sow. Over here we don’t have a pumpkin the size of our first-born or even a fast growing zucchini, but we do have lots of tomatoes revealing themselves on the vine. They are still hard, green, pellet-sized things with nothing more than a hope to hang on and a hope for tomorrow, but my son is so excited over the prospect of them that they are much on my mind.
And that’s got to mean something, right? Because even in the midst of the dog days, when I feel at my least productive and run haggard by having fun (imagine the thought!) I still always think: they are such good kids. And I just hope and hope that, regardless of my lacking, we will get there. I hope we reach the harvest round and full of what we’re supposed to be.
So tell me, my dearies… oh what do you do in the summertime?
Or more importantly, what do you not do so that you can be with your kids?