By Contributing Mama Daphne Biener
Yesterday was the last day of summer vacation. The last day to lounge around in our pajamas until noon. The last day to ride our bikes in meandering loops around a neighborhood ringing out with kids’ happy voices. It was also the day to say goodbye to that super cool summertime mama and say hello again to rules and schedules and bedtimes.
You probably wouldn’t recognize her, so I’ll tell you—that super cool laid-back mama is me. Something happened this year on summer vacation. The first half of the break was typical enough, as I neurotically planned, then executed a 22-state, 6500 miles, 45-day road trip around the country. Thanks to all that rigorous planning and scheduling and agonizing the trip was a raging success. We saw people. We visited places. We ticked activities off of our list.
But it is when we returned home that the real magic began. We came home to a blissfully blank calendar. Not one square of a day filled in for 3 long weeks until the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.
It must have been in response to all that hyper-planning, but something in me gave way, and I became one of those other kinds of mothers. You know, the type that says yes. It was strange and unfamiliar and more than just a little bit wonderful.
Here’s how it went down:
Kids: Hey Mom, can we go to the pool?
Me: Sure thing.
Kids: Hey Mom, can we go for a hike?
Me: Why not?
Kids: Hey Mom, can we stay up late and eat popcorn in bed and climb up on the roof to juggle flaming knives?
Me: Yes my darlings. Go right ahead.
Ok, it never got that bad, but no doubt this agreeable behavior is a slippery-slope. The lackadaisical lady that has taken me over is prone to say yes to everything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a blast right along with my over-ice-creamed kids; it’s just that I’ve become pretty accustomed to my role as the just-say-no mom. I didn’t set out to be a naysayer, any more than I planned on being the sheriff of bedtimes and the Queen of Eat Your Vegetables. It just turned out that way.
But now that I’ve gotten a whiff of life as a Yes Mom, I kind of like it. I like saying yes like kids like popsicles and water slides. And it has been all well and good so far, but I am sad to say that this party is cruising to a screeching halt. Check the calendar. It is upon us: FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!
So, I’m sorry to say it, but NO. NO you can’t watch a movie and NO you can’t have more ice cream. NO you can’t stay up late and NO there is no time for a bike ride. There is dinner to be eaten and homework to be done and teeth to be brushed. The old sheriff is back in town. Hey, don’t look so sad. I hear she’s pretty chummy with that cool mellow lady you’ve been hanging around with lately. And one never knows… Maybe she’ll show up one weekend just in time to whip up a batch of chocolate chip pancakes for dinner.