Am I Flunking Summer Vacation?
Until 4:30 PM yesterday afternoon, I felt like I was managing this summer vacation thing pretty darn well.
We Weisbergs spent July in Baltimore and in Ontario at my husband’s family’s cottage. My kids enjoyed time with grandparents and cousins and swimming at the neighborhood pool/lake and going on fun outings here and there.
And then, on August 1st, we returned to Israel. Which meant I had a month to fill somehow. My big kids would be very busy with friends, and getting ready and then going on the big annual youth-group camping trip, and preparing for next year. But I also have an 11, 9, 6, 3, and 1-year-old to keep busy and happy.
And then I had a great idea– I would hire my 11-year-old, Moriah, to make a camp 3 hours a day for my 3 youngest kids, with her 9-year-old brother as her junior counselor.
Well, 3+ weeks in, Moriah’s camp has been a huge success. They have cooking days, backyard pool days, coloring days, movie days, and every Friday is challah day. 6-year-old Tsofia begged Moriah to have camp on Shabbat as well, but I reminded her that camp directors work very hard during the week and need a day off just like the rest of us.
And my kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy the camp. I use those three hours to run errands, get some exercise, and post something for you JewishMOMs.
And then in the afternoons, I take the little kids out to a neighborhood playground and buy them a special it’s-summer-vacation popsicle on the way home.
And I was feeling very satisfied with this arrangement, and I think my children were too, until yesterday at 4:30 PM, while running out to the playground, when my 16-year-old, Hallel, asked, “Eema, why don’t we go with all the kids to the beach one day?”
The truth is, travelling with 8 kids (including a somewhat naughty 3-year-old and a very active 1-year-old) to the beach is not my idea of fun. In fact, for me, it would be the JewishMOM definition of nervewracking.
So I said, “No, we are not all going to the beach.”
“Going to the beach with all the children is not fun for me. But if you big kids want to go together with abba, that’s great, and I am happy to stay home with Yaakov and Yonatan.”
And then I walked out the door with the little kids, and felt SO AWFUL. Like SUCH a terrible mother. All around me, I see people packing up their cars to go on vacations in the Golan or the Galilee or Netanya or abroad. And all this JewishMOM can muster is a daily outing to the playground with an it’s-summer-vacation popsicle at the end.
And it took me until this morning to recover from my feeling of guilt and lameness.
And I want to tell you how I did.
I reminded myself how I personally define a successful summer day. Rabbi Nivin calls this “my criteria.”
My criteria for a successful summer day, I remembered, is that I spend some time doing stuff I enjoy and then doing stuff with my little kids that they enjoy. And on some evenings, I also go out on my own with my big kids to do stuff they enjoy. So I’m feeling good and relaxed and happy, and they all are too.
And if that includes big trips to the beach and the zoo and the science museum, that’s fine. And if that doesn’t include any big trips, that’s fine too. Shlepping with 8 kids to America and Canada this past July was a big enough trip for the whole year.
It was striking to me, though, how quickly and completely Hallel’s suggestion threw me off balance. And made me feel like a terrible mother.
Until I remembered it doesn’t matter what every other mother in the world is doing right now. Cause in my book, in my own personal situation, low-stress and easy can be a successful summer day too.