The Myth Of Summer Vacation When You're An Adult

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summer vacation
Elzbieta Sekowska / iStock

I remember getting off the bus on the last day of school when I was younger, you know, back when summer vacation was actually a vacation and not the life-sucking three months it can feel like as an adult. I would shed the backpack, run barefoot through grassy fields, and stop showering because I swam at the local lake almost everyday. That’s hygienic, right?

Summertime as a teenager was pretty rad too. I had a job, but somehow possessed enough leftover energy to rip it up with my friends until late in the night, cruising the strip while listening to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Where is that energy now?

I’ll tell you where — some of it is on the kitchen counter that I just scrubbed (also known as the most adherent surface in the world). Some of it is sprinkled all over my floors too, the ones I vacuum every day because my kids shed buckets of dirt, leaves, and grass clippings every time they walk through the door. And the rest of it is probably in aisle six at the grocery store that I have to visit everyday because we are always running out out toilet paper and cheese sticks.

Let’s face it, summertime as an adult can suck. There are no built in vacations just because it’s warm outside. A parent’s schedule does not slow down from May to September just because their kids’ does. If anything, schedules only get busier because the kids are home all the damn time and require varying degrees of attention that they normally don’t during the school year, because…they’re at school.

If I see my son open the fridge and stare blankly at the contents inside only to inform me there is “no food” one more time, I am going to lose my shit. My kids change their clothes 50 times a day because they are always wet and leave said clothes on the floor even though I remind them day after day that this is not how we take care of wet clothes. I still have to tend, only I am tending more. I still have to work, only I am working harder. I want to shed my mom jeans and run through the sprinklers too — maybe with a mojito in my hand. Now that sounds like a summer vacation to me.

Instead, I am carting my children to endless summer activities, spending too much money on summer camps and ice cream cones, and it seems like there are always a few extra kids in my house, eating our food, and being just as messy as my kids. I’m sure I agreed that they could have friends over, but it was probably when my nose was in my Facebook feed and I answered yes to whatever they were asking so they would leave me the hell alone. I really need to pay attention better.

Summertime isn’t all bad though. Sometimes I’ll catch a whiff of a certain scent in the air or see my kids doing something that takes me back to a time when I really did used to run through the sprinkler all day and then fall asleep to the roaring of an oscillating fan. Remember those, the ones that made your voice change if you talked into them? I’ll see myself hopping on my bike, heading to the beach, or sitting under the trees with my friends playing M.A.S.H. while waiting to hear the tinkling melodies of the ice cream truck. Those warmer months of my childhood were a blank canvas that I filled with all the colorful adventures I could imagine. And I suppose I am giving that same freedom to my own children, even if it means I’m sacrificing a bit of my own.

Maybe those sweet bits of nostalgia are meant to give me a gentle nudge, a friendly push that I ought to slow down and soak in some summer for myself. That is, until I am thrown back into reality because I have to pull out that damn vacuum cleaner again and make yet another last-minute run to the grocery store. Although this time I’ll be sure to buy (in bulk) the ingredients for those mojitos.

Fire up the sprinklers, kids.

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