Last week, my Facebook feed began to overflow with adorable snapshots of smiling children sporting freshly combed hair, new clothes, and shiny lunchboxes. It’s still summer, but in many places the back-to-school rush has already started. And the photographic evidence fills me with envy.
My daughters, ages 12 and 14, and my son, 13, will be hanging around the house until after Labor Day, and I really, really need them to go back to school.
So that I can get some work done.
Before we all kill each other.
I used to relish summers with my children. The relaxed pace and reduced obligations let me perform better as a parent than I did during the school year. Without homework, soccer, or teacher emails to worry about, I had more free time and felt confident juggling things as a working mom.
But as my kids have grown, so have my ambitions. Like many moms, I started working more hours when they started middle school and had a longer academic day. But come summertime, those bonus hours evaporate. I’ve also shifted my focus to higher-profile assignments with hard-and-fast deadlines attached. I’ve started writing a book, though I’ve ignored the manuscript all summer. In short, my professional pressures have intensified but I still have limited hours in the day.
As kids get older, they take on their own obligations — ones that inevitably place demands on their parents. All three of my children have been playing competitive soccer since second grade, but as they entered their teens it evolved into a year-round proposition.
For example, in July our club demands both day and evening practices, making day camp impossible and requiring an adult to shuttle them around. And then there’s travel: We live in Seattle but this summer brought us to tournaments in Boise, San Diego, and Vancouver. The endless travel has made it tough to gain any writing momentum. My husband, a partner in an accounting firm, also needs tournament season to end so he can get some work done, too.
But the biggest summertime challenge I face these days — and the one that is hardest to swallow — is the fact that my children have changed.