As the summer inches closer to the end and my kiddos start school tomorrow, I got a little weepy reading this post from June of 2011.
Summer officially commenced for me this morning, as I swam for the first time in at least eight months. I got to stare at the black line at the bottom of an outdoor pool, under blue skies, the sun rising higher with every breath I took to my right side. I love seeing that orb in action while I am too.
Out of the pool, and the fire drill starts. Take kids to Einstein's to get chocolate chip bagel, since there is nothing in the fridge; the whole family was out of town this weekend. Sugar gets them--and a latte from Starbucks gets me--through the grocery store happily and quickly. Come home to unpack the groceries and celebrate the best foresight I ever had: hiring Amelia's great math teacher, a woman named Jamie, to help me three full days a week this summer. Today is her first day.
As I pull the strawberries out of the bag, everything in my kitchen suddenly looks so dirty and gross. There's a liquified cucumber in decaying in the veggie drawer. There are an obscene number of crumbs in the silverware drawer. Clumps of dog hair are too numerous to count. A moldy hot dog bun sits on the bread shelf. The sponge smells. A pair of Ben's (clean) underwear is stained with brown and on display. Those cursed fusion beads--little plastic o's you put on a form, like a dog, and then iron the beads until they melt together and then hold no interest and serve no purpose--are underfoot everywhere, which make me even more frantic as I try to chip away at the popsicle drips on the freezer walls.
I feel like a total slob, and the clock is ticking: she's going to be here within minutes. I can easily cram stuff into a closet and sweep the floor when I know a babysitter is coming for the night, but I can't clean the fridge in 10 minutes. I can, however, toss the cucumber and sponge, clean the veggie drawer, replace the sponge and feel slightly better.
Zoom out, though, and I realize I'm not just worried about how the honey bear is lodged to the shelf he always sits on. I've never had regular help in my house before. Child care in the summertime, up until this year, has always been a mishmash of camps and random babysitters. But because I wanted Amelia on swim team--that's a post I've got to write soon--and they practice at the inconvenient hour of 9:30, when most camps have already started, I had go with plan B.
Plan B is great: I bet a break from making lunches; I don't have to be at a specific place and time for drop-off and pick-up; I don't have to fill out endless forms. But I've also got somebody who will see all the nooks and crannies of my life, and that doesn't feel so great, especially this morning. Will she think we eat too much junk food? That my kids need better manners or more boundaries? That I work too much? My dogs bark too much? That my honey bear is disgusting? That I don't have my priorities in order?
The introspective doubt is the same feeling I conjure when I (reluctantly) talk about running to a non-runner. Do they think I'm wasting my time? That I'm dumb for doing something I'll never win at? That I'm inane to spend two hours on a Saturday morning trudging along by myself? That I'm being selfish for taking time away from the family? That I don't have my priorities in order?
I realize these are all my self-imposed, pretend judgments that I am creating, and that likely, Jamie won't care about the sticky bear, just as a random person doesn't really care about what I do with my free time (if you can define 5:20 a.m. as "free" time.) And as I get older, I am really trying to get out of that obsess-about-others-supposed-judgments mindset totally. It's not worth the energy I put into worrying. It's not like I'd stop running or be on better broom duty. It's like Oprah running another marathon: not going to happen. This is how I picked to live my life, and I don't need to defend it--or keep it sparkling clean.
Still, I had my whole I'm-sorry-my-house-is-such-a-pit speech planned in my head when I opened up the door and let Jamie and her two-year-old, who will be hanging out with my kids for the summer, in for her first day.
I shouldn't have even bothered crafting it.
The first thing she said to me was that she was so psyched she was able to squeeze in a run this morning before she came to work.