Remember when summertime was awesome? I grew up around here and I absolutely loved this time of year. There was so much to do: books to read; friends to play with; a bunch of different day camps; hanging out at the Stanford swimming pool, going to Foothills Park for picnics and hiking; biking to Peninsula Scientific to buy water-weenie equipment. I get choked up just thinking about it.
Summer is still awesome of course, just less so for me…and any other working parent. Naturally my kid still loves summer with abandonment. But for me summer brings with it a dull, white noise that persists through June, July and part of August: the constant thinking and re-thinking and verifying and communicating and confirming and rescheduling and overall change management.
By the time school starts I’m usually dying for the predictability of each week. But until then we live in fear that something will disrupt the tenuous web we’ve weaved—the one ensuring that our son gets from camp to activity to practice to play date, and then back home in one piece. Forget physicists and their ilk, every parent knows that one change to an environment can cause a butterfly effect impacting many other outcomes…and thus all the related the decisions, conversations or responsibilities that get us there.
I’d be losing it by about July 4th if we didn’t make it work by doing one thing well: managing our resources very carefully. First, we know what’s in our resource pool—the evolving village of babysitters, family, friends, and other parents who rise together like superheroes to help us raise our kids; then, we expect and plan for inevitable change; and finally, we accept this inevitable change and adapt our future plans accordingly. Everybody knows who’s on first and where home plate is, even when it changes.
Knowing that we can move resources around based on what’s happening now, or what change is coming about, or on some new opportunity that is so great that I’d be the “worst parent ever not to let [him] go,” makes it possible for my son to enjoy summer the way I did, and for me to be productive and enjoy my work so that when we get home in the balmy evening we can have a water weenie fight. Ah, summertime.