Summer has finally broken my brain. I realized this as we were driving to a campground on Lake Roosevelt last week, where we would be spending the next three days at an informal Ditto family reunion. We had spent the entire morning packing, cleaning and doing all the things you need to do before leaving on a big adventure, and my brain was maxed out with a million little details.
Somewhere between downtown Spokane and Davenport, it dawned on me that I forgot to pack a lantern. And Band-Aids. And snacks. Little things, to be sure, and nothing that would cause the world to stop spinning. But for a person like me, who usually uber-plans every little detail, forgetting such basics was a sign that something in my brain had stopped clicking. Mama was done.
To be fair, even Frankie and Annette would be begging for mercy if they had experienced as much summer fun as the Ditto family has over the past several weeks. It has been a blast, truly. But I simply no longer have the bandwidth to plan another picnic at the lake; pack up all the kids for another camping trip; or figure out the logistics for yet another sleepover with cousins.
If I had it my way, I would turn on a movie for my kids right this minute and have it play in a continuous loop until the bus comes to pick them up for their first day. I am certain that I’m not alone. During a recent trip to the grocery store, I passed a lot of glassy-eyed moms staring straight ahead while they white-knuckled their way through the aisles, usually with a gaggle of three or four kids trailing behind.
As I watched these kids climb in and out of carts, push siblings into canned food displays, and ask 50 times if they could have a box of Whoppers, I wanted to reach out, grab their mothers’ hands, stare into their dead eyes and softly whisper, “I’m with you, sister. We’re almost there.
“Buy that box of Whoppers and call it ‘dinner’ tonight. I’ll do the same with the Pop-Tarts my kid just threw into my cart. And then in September, we’ll rise together like Phoenixes from the ashes, shedding our yoga pants and damp swimsuits, and reclaim our ability to put two coherent thoughts together.”
What a dream.
As I write this, I am well into the afternoon and still wearing said yoga pants. I am walled into a narrow passageway in our home office, blocked on every side by boxes littered with remnants of the company barbecue that we hosted two weeks ago. I spent the morning taking my kids to swim lessons and then wrangling them through their daily chores.
And yet it still looks like the house has been ransacked (but at least the thieves mowed the lawn on their way out!). And I have an impending appointment in the next few hours with my teenage son who cornered me last night and said, “Maybe tomorrow we can sit down and talk about how we can make our meals a little healthier.”
When even the teenager is begging for more fruits and veggies, you know you are not performing at your best. It turns out that Summertime Mommy doesn’t take nearly as much pride in her meals as School Year Mommy. School Year Mommy bakes bread, tosses salads and includes lean protein options with every meal. Summertime Mommy melts cheese on things. That’s it. You have now been introduced to the entirety of my summer meal planning.
So while I eagerly await the rebooting of my brain come September, my family probably anticipates it even more so. Camping and picnics by the lake are fun, but you can only tolerate so many meals of cheese and Pop-Tarts before you cry uncle. Speaking of which, I need to go pull out the toaster – it’s almost time for dinner.
Julia Ditto can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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