I’ve been trying to write a back to school post for a few days. Balthazar started third grade and Margaux started Kindergarten, which means summer is over. But as I wrote (a zillion drafts), I realized that the truth of my summer was an elephant in the middle of my blog. So I’m just going to tell you what happened this summer. And what I learned.
It’s worth noting that I am using the term “lessons learned” loosely. Learning lessons isn’t like learning to drive or learning Spanish. Life lessons are only learned after a long duration of torture, usually in the form of life kicking you in the ass. We learn lessons kicking and screaming. Our mothers will say, “But it builds character” to which I mentally think, “Thanks, but I’m full up on character. It’s good luck I could use more of.”
It’s also worth noting that I am using the term “lessons learned”, but what I really mean is “lesson learned.” I learned one important thing this summer, which I learned from learning a lot of other things. But the take way, that’s one thing. It’s a collection, an anthology of what this summer taught me, after a long duration of torture.
1.When men get depressed.
This summer, Justin went dark. His drive to succeed makes him successful. It also makes him hard on himself. The pendulum shifts either way.
At exactly the same time Balthazar took an anxiety nose dive in anticipation of going away to sleep away camp, which he had requested to attend. Justin and I are big proponents of sleep away camp. I would have preferred to send him a year later. But when your kid asks to go, you say yes. You don’t say, “Great initiating independence, but hold that thought for a year or two.”
The ramp up to Balt leaving for camp was intense and he became overrun with anxiety. He started to develop separation anxiety for the first time in his life. My normally independent kid began to weep at the thought of having a babysitter or bedtime without me there to oversee. He began to worry that I was going to die. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I worry about the same thing, too.
Justin and I decided that no matter what, however, Balt was going to get on that bus to camp. We wanted him to feel what it’s like to overcome his fears. We wanted him to know he could. We wanted to know he could.
But because Balt and Justin look, talk, walk, and shrug alike, Justin feels all the feels on behalf of his son, which takes him down. I think half of parenting is trying to prepare your kids for the future and the other half is pretending like you’re not feeling everything they are.
And so I did what I do, and what you probably do. I kept it together for them. I kept them together. I read articles, talked to experts, and held on tight. I was the emotional retaining wall for the boys of the house.
And I knew it could be worse. I could be depressed, too.
2. Adulting is expensive.
I won’t bore you with the details (plus I signed something that said I couldn’t), but Justin and I got pillaged. Literally. We were someone’s “like fish in a barrel” people to take advantage of.
We had a rental property and the tenant liked it so much, the tenant became a squatter after the lease was up. California real estate laws favor tenants, even when those tenants don’t have a lease. And so we began a lengthy, protracted, and incredibly expensive exercise in removing that person.
We also moved ourselves this summer. Moving is expensive.
Squatters are expensive.
Adulting is expensive.
But, it could be worse. It could be more expensive. And so we move forward.
3.There’s always next year.
While you were posting photos from the most fabulous vacation ever to ___________ , we were home. We didn’t go anywhere. We didn’t go away for the weekend. We didn’t go away using miles. We didn’t go away. We had a squatter that was taking us for the ride of a lifetime. We were terrified of the worse case scenario and so we stayed put.
After seeing everyone’s most fabulous vacation to _____________photos, my own vacation FOMO set in. I felt left out. I felt like everyone had it all. I had just had it.
Sure I know you can never judge a book by it’s trip to Paris, but it doesn’t mean I remember that when I’m on Facebook.
I told a good friend about what happened with the squatter. She said, “Oh my god, we would have been ruined.” And then another friend said the same thing. And another after that. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so behind the 8-ball and like I was outside looking in.
Plus, it could have been worse. We could have been miserable and on vacation.
So we didn’t go anywhere this summer. Big deal. There’s always next year.
4. I just want to chat.
I spent a lot of time this summer thinking about how to do more of the things I like to do and less of the things I don’t like to do. Because I’m a full time freelance writer, this blog often has to be written after I write the 50 posts a month I write for pay. But the thing I want to do most with my time, is write this blog.
And what makes me happiest, what I find most rewarding, is connecting with you the readers. That’s why I started writing this blog in the first place.
Over the years, I’ve grappled a lot with the format of the blog. “Advice? Hmm. Pop culture? No, that’s not all I’m interested in. Family stories? Well yeah, but what if nothing interesting happens and I have nothing to write about?”
Maybe it’s because I’m reading Andy Cohen’s book “The Andy Cohen Diaries” and it feels like Andy is talking to me over a glass of wine at the Tower Bar (oh my god I would love that! especially if he brought SJP), I realize what I’d like to do is just chat with each and every one of you. I’d like to chat about summer vacations, and squatters, and happiness and sadness, and pop culture and the kids, and whatever else comes to mind. I just want to chat.
So I’m probably going to do that. And I’m going to do that more often. Because I’m really trying to spend my time doing what I like and less time doing what I don’t.
So look forward to more chats, more often. Try to read them. Try to comment. Try to hit LIKE on them so more than you and my mom see them. And try to remember, it could be worse. Whatever your it is. It could be worse. That’s what I learned on my summer vacation.
And if you missed my advice video for Margaux before she started kindergarten, here it is.