It is hard for me to look forward and figure out what to do so my kids can have the kind of memories and experiences I did as a kid. Believe it or not, all those chores and summer projects that my Mom and Dad made me and my two brothers do may have made me feel like the typical over-worked, under-appreciated and overly dramatic kid. I don’t feel that way any more, obviously, because every one of those summers was filled with things I did with my older and younger brother. One year we built a treeless treehouse. Every couple years we had to paint the outlying buildings on my parents’ property. We worked on a 1938 Plymouth together. We changed the timing belt on my older brother’s Buick one winter.
Now I face the difficult challenge of trying to convince my kids that we have a house full of dishes, clothes (they’re clean, not dirty.) I have to try and get the kids to fold the clothes, put them away where they belong, and even put them in the correct laundry basket.
But beyond the chores, which are necessary for the actual operation of our household, it’s more about what we’re going to do for our vacations. I’m not managing an investigative unit any more, so I actually have vacation time. I also work for people who are not obsessed with making feel guilty for taking that time off.
Where I face the difficulty of making those vacations count is the fact that I don’t live near my family. No longer can I just drive a few hours and see my folks. If I want to see my folks it’s a few days just to fly there and back. I miss them terribly, they helped us to survive when I thought we were going to fall apart. But the problem we have in this transient world we live in is the fact that I cannot see my folks without taking a good portion of my vacation. I want to see my folks, but I can’t give my kids the vacations and experiences I had if we spend the time traveling to the same place every year. It’s not an easy thing, but it is a question of balance.
The thing is I don’t feel in balance much of the time. Balancing work and home. Balancing cooking and chores. Balancing fun and responsibility. Balancing rest and necessity.
I’m not trying to get all Zen here. It’s not like I subscribe to all that. I don’t do yoga. I don’t get “adjustments”, no “cleansings” of my colon. I just try to make things as much like they were for me when I grew up. So when Sam spent the evening throwing up, I stayed home, regardless of the amount of work I had to complete. Without that second parent, there’s little I can do to keep him feeling safe without being the person home to take care of him. He needs it, deserves it, and it’s that balance of family and home.
So I’ve asked for vacation. I have tried to find time to see my parents along with going to places that my kids should see in the world. With Andrea having left us, I feel like the things we always wanted to do with the kids are necessity, not just hope. We should see the Grand Canyon. We should visit the fields at Gettysburg. Hell, we should get a picture of us standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona! (If you don’t get that reference, too bad)
It’s all about balance again. I am disappointed in myself for not making this a priority when Andrea was here. I’ll be more disappointed if I don’t do it now.
So it’s all about balance. Sometimes I feel like I’m teetering on the edge standing on only my hand but as long as I’m still upright, hopefully it will be OK. It’s the days I see myself falling over the edge that worry me.