Summer Burnout

This is our last week of summer camp, then a few days’ camping trip and we are done with summer!  The kids start school in a week and I can hardly wait to have them back in their normal routine.

We took two family trips in May, so we ended up not doing any traveling this summer. Instead, I booked the kids very heavily with a variety of summer camps.  Manly Guy works on our property (his office is in the guest house), and while summer camps can be pretty expensive, they are *not* as expensive as a husband who is unable to get his work done.  The end result is that I have spent the last ten weeks with a different schedule every Monday, with as many as four different drop-offs/pick-ups each day, rushing to prepare breakfast and pack lunches each morning and trying to ensure that everyone had everything that they needed for the day.  (“S– are your soccer shoes in your backpack?” “T– did you refill your water bottle?” “V– be sure to bring home your hoodie!”)

Since late May there have been swim lessons, Science camp, preschool summer school for our littlest, YMCA camp, older kids’ camp, sleep-away camp, gymnastics camp, Lego animation camp, camps at the Sonoma State University (our son was taking classes, the girls in a camp of summer activities), French camp, art camp and soccer camp.  We hosted our son’s best friend for a week.  We have had quite a few friends visit us, many staying in the guest house.  Keeping it all straight has been challenging, and mornings in particular have been rather frantic at times.  While school brings its own set of demands, at least we will get into a familiar routine and be in it for a while, which is sounding quite nice!

Flying Usually Means the Family Gets Sick

For nearly three weeks, at least one person in the house was sick . . . all because of a trip we took to Cincinnati for Memorial Day weekend!  Overall it was a good weekend getaway, and it was for a family wedding, so we *had* to do it, but I am getting to the point that I dread all of us getting on an airplane.  An individual might catch a bug on a trip (all that recycled air means we share germs with everyone on the plane), but put six people on an airplane and your chances of bringing a virus or other bug home is multiplied . . . by six!

Of course, we weren’t able to get a direct flight (there are few of those between San Francisco and Cincinnati), so we had to stop in Chicago and change planes.  On the second flight there was an 18-month-old in front of us who coughed over us the entire time.  I remember thinking “I hope no one gets that!” during the flight.  Sure enough, Sunday morning (the day of the wedding, of course), one of the twins woke up with a fever of 102 degrees.  I ran out to the drug store and bought some kids’ Tylenol, had her sleep until we had to leave for the wedding, and hoped for the best.  What else can you do?  We can’t leave her at the hotel.  And we flew quite a distance to be there.  We kept her quiet and away from others as much as we could and left a little early.

The day after we returned to California the other twin came down with it.  Manly Guy caught the bug a couple of days after that, and he was sick for a solid week, followed by a week of diminished productivity and no working out (which makes him pretty grumpy).  Then I got the bug, which turned into bronchitis, making me miss the girls’ annual ballet shows.  As I recovered, our littlest caught it and was sick most of last week.  The only family member who didn’t get sick was our son.

I’m sure that there is *something* that the airlines can do to make it less likely that you will get sick after flying.  I’d be happy to don a medical mask if everyone else did it, and I bet that they could filter the air to reduce the germ circulation.    Obviously they wouldn’t be able to make guarantees, but if an airline could demonstrate that they had improved air quality significantly, I’d be willing to spend a little more for each ticket.  The lost productivity of the last three weeks is worth a lot!

Connecting with Other Families Can Be Tricky

In my early twenties, making friends was easy– I was very social and I collected friends willy nilly. If I ended up with a friend who was annoying or had a weird quirk, I laughed about it and it wasn’t a big deal.

In my thirties I chose new friends more carefully. While I maintained friendships with a wide range of characters,  I wanted people around me who shared my interests.

After marriage I was not only concerned with my own wants/needs, but I had to consider how new friends might interact with Manly Guy.  But it didn’t really get complicated until we had kids.

When your kids hit a certain age (5?), they seem to bond better with some kids than others, and they start having opinions about who they spend time with.  So now you have to take into account their preferences.  When you (and your family) meet a new family, a whole host of requirements must be met if you are going to really connect with them and spend time together on a regular basis.  Both you and your husband should like both parents.  You need to like their kids.  You want to like their parenting style.  Your family schedules need to mesh up easily. Kids’ ages, parents’ politics, school and work schedules, after-school activities, entertainment choices– all these (and more) effect how one family connects with another family.

And this week I add a new one to the mix: Do you have “trade”?  If one family asks the other family a favor (“Hey, can you pick up my kid and drop them off at X with your kid later?”), is there opportunity for a reciprocal favor later?  If several favors are asked of one family, and there is no “trade”, then it is a lopsided relationship that ultimately doesn’t work.

Since we changed schools in September, we have had many attempts to more-closely-connect with other families, and I’m amazed/amused at how difficult the process can be.  So many factors go into whether or not the relationship will work on a more-than-occasional contact level.  Turns out that it is a rare thing when two families can spend lots of time together easily!  That doesn’t mean that we aren’t friends with many of the families that we’ve met (I’d like to think that we are), it just means that it seems to be more difficult than ever to find close friends. As life gets more complicated, fitting new people in gets trickier than before.

Of course, this makes me appreciate old friends all the more . . .  friends that I share years of history with and who can laugh at how much we’ve changed.  It’s funny that you don’t need as much in common currently with an old friend, since you can draw on shared past experiences. But friends whom Manly Guy and I have known since before we were married, who have also gotten married and have had kids . . . that is a special category.  People who made the same leap of faith that marriage entails, who risked their sanity by breeding, these old friends have a special place in my heart.