I have a secret. A dark, shameful secret. For a long time, I didn’t even admit it to myself. It felt like it couldn’t possibly be true, and I tried my hardest to pretend it wasn’t. But in the name of being my authentic self out in the world, I have to admit the truth.
I don’t like summer.
I know. It’s gasp-inducing, isn’t it? I mean, summer seems like such a great idea, in theory. A whole season full of warm weather, vacations, swimming, barbecues, fireworks, fireflies, and about a zillion popsicles. Heaven, right? But the reality is so far from that ideal fantasy. For one thing, the weather isn't just warm. Where we live, it's usually hot and humid, kind of like standing in a spray of water shot out by the sun. The heat, combined with the popsicles, which are generally eaten outside, leads to sweaty, dirty, sticky kids. These sweaty, dirty kids hide their dirt and their sticky popsicle juice in nooks and crannies that a water hose on the harshest setting can’t get out, but that somehow find their way magically to the white walls inside our house. The vacations that are supposed to be tons of fun invariably involve overfull vans, bored kids arguing with each other about who dropped a potato chip crumb on whom, a total lack of structure or routine, late bedtimes, wrong turns, and cups containing (and leaking) questionable fluids hiding under every seat in the vehicle. And the most irritating thing of all...my husband, a teacher, stays home with the kids while I go to work.
I realize that on the outside, this looks like an ideal situation. We don't have to worry about finding childcare for our kids over the summer. That is a blessing that I am grateful for every summer. Plus, the kids get lots of time with their dad, which is lovely.
But here's the thing...
My husband and I have a very different idea of what a summer vacation should look like.
My husband is a great dad. He takes good care of our kids. He's also much more relaxed about things than I am. One might possibly say I have a few control issues. Personally, I prefer to say I have discerning tastes. Regardless, I have a vision in my head of how I think their summer should look, and shockingly my husband doesn’t want to plan a day that I am not even there for around my whims. He insists on actually having his own opinions about how to spend his own day with his own children. I know, what is one to do with such an unreasonable woman? I meant husband. Unreasonable husband.
This obvious craziness aside, his easygoing nature is a blessing the majority of the time. He doesn't get rattled easily. He is not bothered by lots of noise in the house. There are many times when I'm grateful for his unflappable nature. But then he goes and does things like staying calm in the face of my rants. Whoops, I mean logical and calm arguments. It’s positively insane. One wonders how I tolerate it at all.
Unbelievably, this insanity continues all summer long. So, in the past I did what any reasonable wife would do when her husband isn't behaving the way she wants. I nagged. And complained. And made passive-aggressive digs. I showed some very interesting sides to my personality. It was not pretty.
Several summers of arguing and sulking later, we eventually realized that we needed to do something different. Many, many conversations ensued. My husband began trying to introduce more structure and activities into his days with the kids, and I am learning to let go a little. I remind myself that things don't HAVE to be done my way. When I relax my expectations on things that aren't high priorities, and really listen to my husband's side of things, he is more than willing to meet me halfway on the things that matter.
Given our success of handling one summer annoyance, I was motivated to move on to other things I don’t like about the season. I adopted a different attitude towards vacations, I bought some cute dresses that, while they don’t change the weather, at least help me feel pretty, and all popsicles are now eaten in the shower. Not really, but don’t think I haven’t considered it.