The other morning, I startled awake trying to piece together a dream that was incredibly disturbing to me…
You see, I was pregnant and in labor. But I wasn’t the only one! My dear friend (and fellow Momma of four, Jen) was also pregnant and in labor at the exact same time. We were both giving birth in this strange outdoor hut-like structure. Neither one of us seemed to be having a birth that would be described as “challenging” — our babies just eased on out into the world, and there they were! We smiled at one another from across the hut and got down to the business of feeding our newborns. All in all, a pleasant experience that, at least in the dream, we both seemed very happy about.
So why was it so disturbing?!
Because, my friends, that boat has sailed for both of us — and it left the dock a long, long, time ago! I know that while each of us treasures our four children and we’ve both been very pleased to have added to our families over the years, I also know that we are done with the whole making-babies thing — D.O.N.E.— done. I woke up with the image of us both becoming mothers again for the 5th time seared into my brain and knew the only way to purge it from my memory would be to share it (especially with her!)
So, I texted her the whole dream/nightmare sequence first thing in the morning and ended my description with this: “So no matter how challenging this Summer might be for either one of us, just remember how much MORE challenging it would be if we had Baby #5 attached to our breasts!”
This, of course, received an immediate response from her and the morning was then filled with a flurry of texts, bitmojis, GIFs, and emoji symbols sent back and forth that made me laugh out loud more than once.
You see, Jen is my girl that I’ve called, emailed and texted “Are you ready for Summer Vacation?!” messages to since we first embarked on this Momma journey 18+ years ago. She’s the one that when we had lots of littles and lots of time, I would call first to make plans to corral said littles and kill said time when the long days of Summer Vacation were upon us.
Jen understood perfectly the craziness that is moving from having one little quiet baby at home, snuggled up in a carrier, napping most of the day and waking only to nurse or get their bum wiped — to suddenly having a gang of loud, whining, seemingly screen-addicted, maniacal wild animals released into our homes from the torture of having to sit still and be quiet in school.
The first days of Summer Vacation are intense, y’all!
Jen was there for me to commiserate as we gathered up the gumption to face yet another Summer Vacation together head-on, to strategize with one another about where we could take our eight children and not get too many glares or comments, to deciding what activities we could take part in, so that all of us would make it out alive by the start of Fall…
In case any of you reading this think that either of us regret having our big, loud, boisterous families, let me assure you — we don’t. Both of us talk, often, about how we are uniquely suited to the chaos that is a large family, how we enjoy that there’s always something going on (all the damn time!), how even as our oldest ones have graduated and are heading of to college in the Fall, we’re both really happy that our nests will not be completely empty for another ten years, at least.
But to not acknowledge the tectonic shift from “School Year” to “Summer Vacation” would be to turn a blind eye on what happens to ALL families as they figure out anew what it’s like to spend so much time together again under one roof in those first days and weeks that I like to call, “The Twilight Zone”. The Twilight Zone of parenting is that time that exists before Summer Camps begin, before jobs start, before there’s any established rhythm in the home at all.
The Twilight Zone is that time when kids sleep in too late, when dinner is not on the table before 8 pm and kids are going to bed waaaaaaay after normal lights out, when writing a blogpost switches from mid-morning or early-afternoon, to setting an alarm clock and getting up early to avoid the noise that is THEM, when your nine-year-old eats graduation cake for breakfast (I’m not joking… this was the scene after walking in the door from my morning Boot Camp class. My husband’s response? “What? It’s basically a muffin…”)
I’ll admit it… There’ve been a few moments this week when I’ve been on the verge of freaking out!
“Omigod, this can’t be the way our Summer is going to go down! We need structure and we need it, NOW!”
But then, I remember that this first week is, and will always be, my version of The Twilight Zone: a little unsettling, a little disturbing, a little chaotic, a little frightening. But the dust will settle, the rhythm will be established, the routine will become a little more structured, a little less free-for-all. And then I’m able to calm down. I’ve successfully navigated Summer Vacation before, and will successfully navigate this one again, for sure.
BONUS!!! At least I won’t be navigating this Summer Vacation with nursing infant #5 strapped to my chest!
Oftentimes, this blog is dedicated to those folks who are newly parenting, or parenting littles — but today, I dedicate this blog to my friend, Jen, who’s been my “parent-in-crime” since the very beginning, and to all of my other Momma friends out there who’ve been doing this gig for a long while and with a lot of littles underfoot. You all know what I’m talking about and we will get through yet another episode of The Twilight Zone — together.