Let's be forthright, shall we? Moms -- stay-at-home or not -- don't really get summer vacations, now, do they? There's always a nose needing to be wiped, a knee needing to be sprayed with disinfectant (and then kissed) and then sprayed with disinfectant again or a soccer/baseball/football player or track star that needs a lift to camp ... and back.
When I think of all the vacation time I wasted before children; time just frittered away walking on a beach, drinking in pubs or visiting places with breakables, I become wistful. Because of the Champ's arrival and the Family Medieval Leave Act, this past few months has been the closest to a summer vacation I've come since sophmore year, high school. (It was pretty much full-time summer jobs from then on.) Oh sure I had surgical recovery and the addition of a new person to the family -- one that requires maintenance every two hours -- to contend with, but I also had 10 hours a day that was normally taken up with work and commute. All I had to do now was fill it up by entertaining a preschooler. Easier said than done.
For the record:
Free play isn't free. For 90 seconds firstborn children will assemble all that is needed for a morning of spectacular, imagintive play. The debris will be scattered over four states. Yet as soon as you tell them that they will have to play by themselves, the scamps will lose all interest, abandoning the minefield of toys and begin a chant that will haunt you for the rest of the day: IDON'TKNOWHOWTO ...
Any craft projects that YOU conceive occupies a preschooler for approximately 13 minutes (and that's a successful one). It will also take 30 minutes to clean up, but you can't count those as part of your day since you can't push the vacuum for another four weeks thanks to the incision. And, once you've been cleared for takeoff, the baby will be sleeping during prime suction opportunities anyway.
Taking a walk to the nearest park will burn up a good hour and 17 minutes. You will be smacking yourself in the face with every pebble the kid picks up along the way (475) not to mention trying to figure out a way to slide down the curly slide with a baby in arms or bribe the only other child in the whole playground -- a bored looking pre-teen probably waiting for her ex-convict boyfriend -- to do it for you.
Be prepared for a workout on the way home as you WILL be returning with a kicking, screaming banshee, slippery from reapplied sunscreen, because the only way she will ever be ready to leave a playground is if you promise the circus is offloading elephants in the driveway as she lollygags on the swings.
Lunch will be a solid 10 minutes of fun (and another 20 minutes of agony). You will spend four minutes asking your firstborn what they desire and be told all manner of non-procurable vittles: "I would like chocolate covered bees, pleeeeze." Of course when you finally negotiate for peanut butter sandwiches (with the crusts cut off) and you start making them, she'll tell you she really wanted peanut butter celery canoes.
During all this you will have to change the baby four times, change your shirt twice and your pants once. You still haven't showered, and the firstborn is only wearing underwear. You bribe the child into wearing clothes by telling her she can help you make cookies if she puts on a shirt and shorts. Chocolate chip? Is there any other kind?
But lo' there's no brown sugar. So off to the store you go. Packing the car with a half-naked kid, a screaming infant and about a week's worth of clothes should your car break down and help doesn't arrive for an hour. Granted, grocery stores take about two hours whether you are getting one item or 100. (I would explain, but I might cry just thinking about it).
We get home and fire up the oven. There are some things that I think are FUN to do with kids and baking happens to be on the top of the list. Cakes from a mix, Toll House from scratch ... doesn't matter. If they lose interst between the creaming of butter and sugar and the spooning heaps onto the baking sheet, just thrust a loaded mixer blade in thier direction and watch them disappear.
But that only fills three-quarters of a day ... if I bake one more thing I will be faced with a horrid choice: lose my husband to heart disease or open the most inconsistent bakery in the world, calling it "Some Like It Hot (But Most Like It Cooked).
You know what's filling the rest of the day, right? The boob tube. Oh, yeah ... I've still got laundry to wash and fold. But then I swear, I don't care if it is midnight before the house is finally silent, I'm sitting down to read that trashy beach novel. It's still summer right?