Thursday, July 24, 2008

Farewell Summer

When I was teaching last spring I was happy. Buoyed up by sunlight and sleep, I spent six weeks in a permanently good mood, thriving on my daily routine of reading, lecturing, and grading papers on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Treasure Island. I've taught Children's Literature enough times by now that it's effortless: my lectures are the product of my first year of teaching, when I would spend four or five hours preparing for each 50-minute class. They flow. They're easy to relearn and deliver. The level of effort is low, but the payoff is high: I'm still seeing new connections, learning new things. I'm still excited to teach each day.

This year, though, is a bit different. My grading load has doubled. I have a lingering sore throat that sends me into paroxysms of coughing, interrupting my classes and keeping me up at night. I feel drained by all the paint chips and shopping trips, the emails and mortgage documents. Teaching always gives me energy - no matter how exhausted I am I always wake up in the classroom - but at the end of the day there simply isn't enough of me to go around. At night Bub tells me, "I love you, Mama. I missed you today." And when I say, "I love you too" he corrects me. "No, Mama. Say, 'I missed you too, Bub.'" I did. I do.

Last July I was cracking a bit under the pressure of my baptism of fire as a stay-at-home mom. I was burning the grilled-cheese sandwiches, losing track of my kids at the toy store, and sweating profusely during long, humid days at the beach. This summer, beach days have been replaced by day camp and Teletoon Retro. The children come home with fridge magnets made of popsicle sticks and we collapse together on the couch, mesmerized by Road Runner and Scooby-Doo. August will bring us the packing and the moving, and by the time the dust settles in September I'll wonder what happened to the summer that passed me by when I was too tired to notice.

35 comments:

wheelsonthebus said...

I feel that way about the past six months, but you expressed it perfectly.

Erin said...

I feel this way so much of the time, I wish I knew the way to snap out of it. I'm so exhausted by the end of the day, but then I toss and turn and fret all night long. It's a nasty cycle. I've never been a big fan of summer, and I blame it somewhat on unrelenting heat and too much daylight.

kittenpie said...

I know. My summer is passing in a whirl of work and renovations and tiredness, too, and if I can even just get it all in, I'll be happy, but still, come the first week of september, when Pumpkinpie starts school, I know I will sit back and wish I'd had more time, more energy, more something.

ginger said...

I always get fretful mid-summer that it's going too fast and I'll get to September and wonder where it went and what did I do with it.

Beck said...

That's the freaking BIND of summer - no one ever thinks "I AM NOT MAKING ENOUGH OF NOVEMBER!" but summer comes with OBLIGATIONS.

Cyndi said...

I know! I thought I would have a nice relaxing summer, but I have been busier than ever. Hopefully I will have a little more rest when school starts.

Jenifer said...

I thought the same thing as I was dragging my self to the pool with the girls yesterday. All this crazy weather has made outside play sketchy most days so I was trying to come up with something not tiring for me and fun for them. Then I thought why am I so worried about this, they are pretty happy playing around the house days making up imaginary games.

Why does summer bring out these high expectations?

Lawyer Mama said...

This has been me this Summer as well. Hope it slows down for you after the move.

Kyla said...

I was dreading summer this year. I'm not good when I'm not on the go. The vastness of free time is too much for me. But between spontaneous trips around the country, day camps, speaking engagements, and summer school, we've been going full tilt all along!

slouching mom said...

oh, hon. i'm sorry you're exhausted, and i'm worried, now, about your health.

take care of yourself.

Marian said...

Yeah. My years are so stressful now that I am routinely in adrenal exhaustion by spring. In June and July I'm supposed to rest, recover, clean madly, re-connect with people, catch up on the most important of the projects that have waited all year, make and file portfolios and new paperwork with the school district, research and custom design curriculum to meet the special needs of my eldest as well as everybody else, organize it all and launch the new school year. And simultaneously parent 24/7, spend fun time with my kids, make the summer magic happen and live the rest of life...
The ticking clock and expectations of summer exacerbate it all. Last week? Near "nervous breakdown" here, if you want to call major crying, hyperventilating, and complete inability to function that.

All that to say, I know what you mean.

Being in your new house will be a great thing. All of the work you do there will be constructive, in a positive direction, every day closer to settled. (ieNot like selling and packing up an old house.)

Chaotic Joy said...

I know this feeling you speak of well. Of all the things that summer brings, guilt has always been the biggest for me.

Lady M said...

I've been ramping up at the office this week and going back for real on Monday, so it feels like summer is over already. I guess I should be grateful I've had time off already! (Envying those Canadian leave policies. ;)

planetnomad said...

Don't despair--there will be other summers.

And I totally agree with Beck! The pressure of summer! Only Christmas comes close. Both are usually better in retrospect.

Aliki2006 said...

Summer seems to have become for me what you describe so well--I often am too tired to notice its passing.

Karen said...

yes, yes. We have hit a bit of an ugly point of summer. Up til now we have been slightly too busy. We are about to be not quite busy enough. I can't decide which I'd prefer, except it is always the other one.

the new girl said...

Aw, Bea.

What a great description. I feel that way about the whole first year of my girl's life, I swear.

And so far, the second year seems to be a bit blurry as well.

Mimi said...

Yoiks. The introspection and retrospection really seem to be going around lately. Moving: sucks, sucks, sucks. We're just coming out of the vortex of cardboard and paint chips and mortgage documents and very large cheques now. It's worth it. Eventually.

kim the midwife said...

When "summer" started I got blue. I had such fun, different fun, in the summer as a kid. It's been years since I had summer off, but having kids makes me wish for it again.

And my eldest comes home with popsicle crafts too, and I wish it were me crafting with her.

Nice post.
Kim

Janet said...

I have passed more than one summer in a haze. You have a lot on your plate, with the working and the family and the moving. So cut yourself some slack and enjoy the cartoons.

Kia said...

Aw, sorry you feel that way. I can understand it, though. Moving is a stressful thing; it can take a lot out of you, what with it's embellishments of mortgage papers, moving vans and paint chips. It's all worth it in the end, but completely exhausting nonetheless. I hope that the next month .5 is as stress-free as humanly possible. Just try to think of how wonderful it will be to put your feet up once the move is done... well, for a minute anyway! ;)

niobe said...

I know. I know.

nomotherearth said...

Exactly. My mat leave will be coming to an end in the fall and I will wonder where the time went. I spent it wishing I was sleeping more.

apathy lounge said...

Ditto to what you just said.

Lisa b said...

The grass is always greener..... I wish I were heading back to work in september.

I really like the lighter colours below that you aren't sure about. I think once the floor is in you will really like them. I did a bold shade in my front room and with all the white trim - I have very deep baseboards and wainscotting EVERYWHERE, but my house is much smaller- I ended up repainting.

As for mortgages the banker always recommends variable. He quotes some study showing that over time you will always pay less with variable, the one caveat being that you cannot go variable if you cannot afford rates to go up.

and thus ends a comment probably as painful to read as some essays. though I never attempted to be an english major I get some hilarious lab reports.

Kristen said...

I hear you. Boy do I ever. It took me more than a year to work through the chaos and exhaustion. I still think I'm working on it, but have a better handle now. The moving/building thing being stuck in the middle of all this just makes it that much more overwhelming. Hang in there -- you'll see a light at the end of the tunnel eventually; I promise.

www.antiquemommy.com said...

It seems to me that every season of life is a little like that. Sigh.

Pecos Blue said...

We have a full plate too. I hope that you get a few moments to your self and can take care of you. Nice blog.

cinnamon gurl said...

Hey, so when are you moving? I'm guessing it must be VERY soon?? Hope things are ok...

Glinda the Good said...

Although I haven't been posting, I have been reading each and every one of your incredibly insightful posts. I have neglected Matriarch; I am mostly posting as Redstocking Grandma and Glinda the Good, writing for political blogs. I changed the Matriarch url
http://matriarch45.blogspot.com. I wish I could combine Matriarch and Glinda the Good Feminist, but my daughters would hate it. Glinda is much more snarky than Matriarch.

I am having a wonderful time with 15-month-old Michael. Michael utterly seduced his aunts into motherhood, and I am eagerly awaiting two granddaughters, one due in August and one in December. The other fabulous news is that my daughter the writer, due in December, is moving to Boston next month, Both of my granddaughters will be in the same city.

Glinda the Good said...

I guess I should have said I am Mary Jo (Joan) Graves. Actually I am a law firm--Mary Joan Patricia Koch Hawkins Graves.

ばらっち said...

Hello.This is first time for me to visit your site.
I have three children (6year-old boy,4year-old boy,2year-old girl)
They are angel, sometimes devil, though...
I'm happy if you link to my site.It is written in Japanese(some of the words are English) but show pictures.
baratch family

Bea said...

Sin - We took possession of the house last week (in an almost-complete state), and we're moving Aug. 22. When do you move?

Mary Jo/Glinda - Of course I know who you are, silly. ;)

Nora Bee said...

I can feel your tiredness. Thank heavens you have the teaching to energize you!

Paula said...

Oops, sorry, I forgot to use my Blogger identity...