There’s a saying in the U.S. (well maybe just the East Coast), that kids live “10 for 2”. They live thru 10 months of school to savor their 2 months of summer camp. It’s hard to explain this longing and phenomenon to my European friends since summer camp isn’t exactly in their vernacular. But I think it’s a universal feeling to hold a special place in your heart for summer. We have now been living abroad for almost 4 years and coming back to New York for the summer, to our own home, is increasingly more meaningful. And not just for the kids but for me too. When we came home that first summer, I didn’t know if we would/could jump right back into our traditional summer routines. On the one hand we were kind of a novelty and our experiences made for excellent conversation. But on the other hand, I didn’t quite know where to put myself. We had so many friends and family we wanted to see but I remember feeling stretched thin and somewhat uneasy. I was also anxious about the kids and if they would still “fit in” – whatever that meant. I couldn’t spend quality time with everyone and I didn’t want to cut people out either. It was tricky. But now, with time, we have found solid ground while truly taking advantage of our unique situation.
This summer saw a major change- Alex attended sleep away camp for the first time. He went off to the mountains in Pennsylvania to Camp Starlight – a special place for our family since my dad, brother and I all attended. He slept in a bunk with 8 boys and I can assure you he was the only one who didn’t live within a 4 hour drive of the camp. He engaged in nonstop activities (not only sports) and he loved every minute of it. He is the kind of kid who was meant to be a camper. It was strange for me at first but also amazing to know he was thriving in an environment so new and different. Sleepaway camp deserves its own post (maybe a later date) but needless to say, he came back and told me he lives 10 for 2!
Kate went back to her fantastic day camp with the same group of girls she met 3 summers ago. She also relished “just a bit” of individual attention. She got to choose whatever tv show or music she wanted. She got to choose weekend activities and preferred restaurants. She didn’t have to watch Alex play in a basketball clinic or fight over who got to choose the ice cream shop of the day. It was pretty amazing to watch her as an only child for just a little bit. But by the end of the summer, Kate declared that the house was way too quiet and definitely too boring without Alex.
And finally, after 4 summers away, I hit my stride too and truly know who are my real-deal people. Some naturally fell by the wayside but others stepped up in unexpected ways. This summer, I wasn’t wracked with guilt if I didn’t see someone. I can’t do it all and I always prefer quality over quantity. I want to spend time with my family. I want to spend time with my friends from childhood and the dear friends I met when my kids were babies. I want to take my favorite exercise classes and then get my favorite hazelnut iced coffee afterwards. Priorities. But seriously, I learned that my true friends always make time for me (even if inconvenient) because they know mine is so limited. They include me and my kids in anything they can, even (or especially) when Greg is away and working. They check in on me more than the average friend because they know my 7+ weeks at home is “different”. I think they now get it. You all know who you are (even if I don’t have any pictures of you!) so thank you. I’m super appreciative and grateful.
Lastly, Greg got to spend 3 excellent weeks with us at the end of the summer. And while it isn’t a vacation in the traditional sense (plenty of work calls and meetings), he gets to be in our happy place by the beach. He knows how important that really is to us. We enjoyed biking and beaching and paddle boarding and bbq’ing and drinking and hanging with our friends and family.
I haven’t had an interest in writing at all. I basically, completely unplugged myself from my life in Moscow for 2 months. Although I wish I could say I knew how to unplug from my phone, that never happened. Or happens.
We are now back in Moscow and the kids have been in school for 2 weeks. Finding our routine and rhythm again always takes a bit of time. Surprisingly, we are experiencing summer-like weather which eases the transition.
But I do still yearn for our summers. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel like I was also living 10 for 2 but those 2 months have become extra special since living abroad. And since that makes all of us happy, I find absolutely nothing wrong with it. As always though, we have some fantastic trips coming up and so much to look forward to. First up, Tuscany for a wedding…without the kids! Happy back-to-school to all my friends at home!