Learning to Fly Again and Again

July 2nd, 2024

The 2024 summer camp season has officially begun. Halfway to camp on Day 1, Eliza suddenly announces she forgot to bring shoes. We turn around.

I painstakingly packed according to the pages-long sanctioned  lists, but neglected to check to see if my kids were wearing shoes when we left the house. We were thus late for our allotted camp drop-off time, but honestly, it didn’t really matter. There was still a long line of parents checking in with their kids. We had to go through the registration line, the lice-check line, and the nurse line before heading up to the cabins that would be their home base for the week.

This is not a sleepover camp. It’s “try me” camp, which means they can sleep over, but they don’t have to. The camp day is quite long even without sleeping over, so they are whipped at the end of the day and excited to come home and “blow out,” which is how we say relax in my house, and it’s an apt descriptor. 


Summer is a scheduling nightmare, and I hate it. I resent that, while summer is my favorite season conceptually, it is also the season I am the very most stressed out, and simultaneously the time of year when the very most things are apt to go wrong — broken arms from indoor parkour, bug bites that turn into infected welts, and sudden surges of anxiety that make camp drop-offs take forever. 

“With all the distractions summertime can bring, it’s no surprise that 41% of full-time employed adults report being less productive during the summer months, according to a recent survey fielded by the Harris Poll.”

I know I know — it’s not always about being productive. But for me, relaxing unproductive layabout time is only pleasing if it means I can daydream, letting my thoughts wander in peripatetic bliss. This is not the way of mothering. Mothering is constant interruptions, the unceasing lobbing of questions, arthritic mom feet being constantly accidentally stamped on by strong young bodies, broken glass requiring thorough cleanup before anyone cuts themself, and the constant, constant sibling squabbles.

Sometimes, though, when they have free time, I see my daughters transform into inventive creators. They’re writing books, building towers, and painstakingly constructing tiny little libraries for their dolls.

Screenshot 2024-07-02 at 10.25.18 AM

It’s true that boredom breeds creativity. This is a parenting philosophy I wholeheartedly support. Unfortunately, it’s not a summer lifestyle that jibes with two working parents and kids who, if left unsupervised, will end up in the ER. So it’s a constant balance.

After camp, in the kitchen, I ask Phoebe about her day. I want details; I hope to live vicariously through my daughters and their magical summer camp experience. I get nothing. But Phoebe, changing the subject immediately, asks me, “Mama, do you have any goals this week?”

I am pleased. My daughter gets me. She knows I am very goal oriented in countless little ways. I light up: “Well yes actually! I am going to try not to buy any groceries this week, but instead work our way through the food we have in the freezer and pantry, and harvest veggies and herbs from our garden. Maybe we can save a little money that way.” [for all these freaking camps, is what I don’t say]

“What about you?” I counter. “Do you have any goals this week?”

“Yes,” she confides.

“Oh cool!” I exclaim. “What’s your goal?”

Phoebe says, “to learn to fly.” 

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