Boy, did I need a vacation — we homeschool year round!
In the summer we take a break from social studies, science and organized cooperatives. During outdoor soccer seasons, we don’t do much of the three Rs — reading writing or arithmetic, while social studies, science and cooperatives continue. In December everything slows down, while arts, crafts, music and religious studies take the front seat. So we are always doing school work of some sort.
This Christmas, for the first time since having children, I got a vacation. My in-laws took my children for three days. Three whole days!
I remember days off when I was working (for income, I mean). I’d sleep in, exercise, read, eat — do slow things. Well, this was different. It had been eight years since I could try on clothes without help: “Mommy, that swim suit makes your bum look big.” “Mommy, I’m hungry. When will we be done?” So I went to the mall with my husband, who refrained from commenting by waiting patiently outside the stores.
When we finished shopping in peace, we headed home. Somehow the four books I was simultaneously reading didn’t beckon to me loudly enough. Instead, I started organizing. Imagine trying to store and keep accessible all the art supplies and math manipulatives for a third-grader and a preschooler! What a jumble! Not to mention that if you get behind on filing their paperwork in their portfolios, the stuff starts growing on its own. What a rewarding day. I organized and no one came along after me to unorganize it!
Then the second “day off” started surprisingly. My husband had to return to work and it was just me. Instead of wanting to jump out of bed, I laid there, thinking of the many projects I had planned to do but not wanting to get up. I missed the girls. Not that I wanted them back home yet, but I missed connecting with them.
So I got up and called them. Like the previous day, they sounded distant. Not wanting to burden them with my feelings, I told them the new dog missed them terribly. Now that was true — she wasn’t eating anything but one meal a day instead of her normal three meals and she was moping around the house.
So I proceeded with my day and attacked the rest of the house, organizing every room back to order. While I worked, I felt thankful that I like my children enough to miss them and grateful that they were with family, having a good time.
Finally on the third day, the kids came home! I was working in the basement (always more to do), when I heard them pull in, so I ran upstairs. I received a cool “hi Mom,” while the dog got oodles of hugs, kisses and terms of affection! Later Dad came home and got the same greeting the dog did.
Later, my oldest astutely asked me if something was wrong. I explained that I missed them and felt they only missed their father and the dog. They looked shocked. Apparently I had told them how distraught the dog was so they wanted to make her feel better and in their effort completely forgot me. It didn’t occur to them that I missed them too. (OK, now I feel better.)
So I think we’ll do this again — much sooner. This time, I won’t be surprised that I might miss the little people I spend so much time with. Maybe they won’t be surprised that the mommy they hang out with likes their company.
Oh, and maybe we should tranquilize the dog.
Rachael Barlow is a married mother of two who lives in Groton. She is a retired lactation specialist and software engineer. She is active in New Song Community Church and one of the directors for the All Together Now Family Chorus.