I wasn’t expecting a personal revelation on the Fourth of July.
It was a low-key but lovely day. The rain finally stopped, the sun was shining, the kids played outside. We went to a nice barbeque chez Mommy Esq.. Quiet. Reasonably peaceful. Enjoyable. A very nice summer day.
So why was I so cranky much of the day and near tears at night?
Life with two toddlers, with our fairly strict adherence to routine and schedule (especially where naps are concerned) can start to feel a little like the movie Groundhog Day. In and out, each day remarkably similar to the day before. There are variations, of course, but a lot of the daily grind and general thought processes are the same. thing. every. day.
On the one hand, this is a good thing. Routine and schedule make for better naps, happier kids, et cetera, et cetera. On the other hand, it can be restrictive. Sometimes it seems my overriding parenting mantra is respect the nap. It pays off, sure, but it also means you won’t see me doing a darn thing in the early afternoon any day of the week. Sometimes this gets me out of doing things I’d rather not do. And sometimes it’s an enabling excuse to do nothing.
Add to that my kids’ age: nearly two. For the last two years, I’ve opted not to do a number of things because the kids are “too young to realize it.” We haven’t made a huge deal out of holidays and other celebrations because, whatever, the kids don’t know the difference. And really, I can only work so much around their nap schedule and I don’t want to keep them up too late past bedtime and when are they going to eat dinner and what about snacks and blah blah blah…
And that is how Fourth of July 2009 became a day of revelation. I was cranky because it didn’t feel remotely like a holiday to me. None of the games, races, parades, bike-decorating, face-painting, or fireworks of my youth. I didn’t look into what kinds of festivities my town might have planned. I certainly didn’t plan on going to a fireworks show (OK, that one I still feel good about… 2-3 hours past the kids’ bedtime and lots of loud noises? No thanks.). We really did nothing particularly out of the ordinary. There was nothing special about the day at all. And it bugged me.
This is compounded, of course, by the fact that we live far away from my home town and the large extended family that I grew up with. We don’t know much about the town we live in, and are not particularly invested in it. It brought on an acute bout of holiday homesickness.
But that aside, it comes down to the fact that I am not doing anything to create holiday traditions and memories for my family. And without the structure of a familiar hometown or lots of family to rely upon, it’s up to me. And I need to stop being lazy about it.
I’m not saying I need to go nuts. I am not going all-out on holiday-themed decor and matching outfits. There are plenty of activities that my kids remain legitimately too young to do. But the whole “they’re too young” thing as an excuse for not celebrating holidays is officially expired. Halloween, look out. We’re coming for you this year.
And lest you think I wallowed in homesick self-pity all weekend, I am proud to say that Sunday provided a much-appreciated antidote to my bemoaned lack of spontaneity.