A New Challenge


A long, challenging school year has come to a close, and summer vacation is finally here.  No more math papers to correct, no more history lessons to plan.  Ten long weeks with no need to fight the traffic twice a day.  No need to keep the kids focused and productive.  Just a long ribbon of freedom, days and weeks stretching out before me with no one to worry about or please or fuss over.

So why am I not euphoric?  Why am I not doing the happy dance?

Well.   I guess its because the summer is a long ribbon of days and weeks stretching out before me with no one to worry about or please or fuss over. Or play with, or talk to or take to the beach.  I have no one who needs me at home or at work.

That has never happened to me before.

When Paul and I were first married, 34 years ago, we both had jobs. We both headed off in the morning and reunited at dinner time. We took turns cooking, or we bustled around the kitchen together, sipping wine, talking over the day, settling in for the evening.

Then we started grad school, and our hours were hectic and unpredictable. We both studied, we both held part time jobs, we had a big group of friends in the same situation.  Life was full, busy, active.  There was always something to be done!

And then the babies came, and my busy life got that much busier. I worked, I rushed home, I cooked and cuddled and bathed and read books.  Every minute felt full to the brim. Every day felt too short and too fast.  Every night Paul and I reconnected and shared the remaining chores.

During those years, vacations were busy, too.  Summers meant beach trips, picnics, the zoo, sleepovers and campouts and S’Mores and birthday parties.  Summer vacation was my time to throw myself heart and soul into Momminess.

In those years, the last day of school was a reason for intense celebration.  I clearly remember driving home on the last day of school after my first full time year of teaching.  The kids were 9, 5 and 3 years old.  I remember pulling onto the highway, rolling down the windows, sticking my head out and just screaming like a banshee.  That was joy!

Even last summer, when everyone was all grown up, I wasn’t home alone in the summer. Kate lived here, and Tim was home from school.  Summer was busy and full and I ran around cooking, shopping, coordinating events.  Last summer was really, really fun.

This year, though, is a whole new challenge. No more kids at home. This year I get up  with Paul in the morning, and have coffee and chat.  He heads to work, and I walk the dogs and throw in some laundry and weed the flower beds.  I feel like Laura Petrie or Lucille Ball, keeping house while my husband earns a living.  I feel like I should be wearing pearls and a white apron.

This is distinctly and decidedly NOT fun.

So I’m looking at it as a new challenge.  I have plans to go to the beach this week, to meet some friends for lunch, to visit a new baby.  Next week I hope to take out my new kayak with another old friend, and maybe take a day to visit my boys in the western part of the state.  I am thinking of an overnight trip to Maine, and I have two weeks planned for a history course that I am taking.

I know that I don’t have to turn into a 50’s housewife. I know that.  I know that life is still interesting and fun and full of adventure.  It’s just that I have never had this much freedom before.  I’m finding it all a little scary.

8 thoughts on “A New Challenge

  1. Please, do me a favor and enjoy yourself! Days that aren’t filled with responsibilities sound like Heaven to me. Find a hobby, complete a project, try out a new recipe just for fun or just kick your feet up and watch a movie. And for God’s sakes, if you must wear an apron, make it colorful and loud with loud jewelry. The pearls and white aprons are for old ladies, and you, my dear friend, are not there yet!

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  2. This is your time to gather some of your best articles and get them off to magazines, newspapers, and literary agents (for a book of essays). This is the time of year (and life) when you can’t say you’re too busy. You’re hiding your light under the bushel of blogging. You deserve a wider audience.

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      • Begin with the Boston papers and magazines and other Massachusetts and New England publications. There are lists of literary agents online. They indicate what their specialties are, so you don’t waste time proposing a book of non-fiction essays to an agent who does science fiction. Spend this summer trying. If it doesn’t work out (and I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t), you’re in the same place you are now. You can dedicate your book to me!

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