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Bits & Pieces: So long, summer

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Summer vacation is a sneaky little devil. Like a Catholic schoolgirl, the first few weeks of summer break seem so sweet and innocent, but, as you all know, things aren’t always as they seem.

In May I spent way too much time putting together the puzzle that would be our summer days ahead. To the average Joe, my color coded schedules resemble New York City’s public transportation routes, but in fact it was my boys’ schedules that gave me some understanding of their ever-changing activities and camps.

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In June the sunshine and all the extra time with my boys felt like a much-needed vitamin I was deficient in. I sauntered into summer, big sunhat and all, ready to do some serious mingling with other moms who signed their kids up for weeks of swimming class. We caught up on our lives as our cherubs learned the finer points of how not to die in the water. That was the part of summer I still felt dedicated to enriching my kids’ lives every day. Invention camp. Check. Explosion of messy arts and crafts. Check. Holding my ground on not letting them watch more than an hour of T.V. per day. Check and check!

It must have been all the sunscreen fumes I was breathing in. Yup- I’m blaming my gung-ho, can-do-it-all attitude on the heaps of sunscreen I sprayed onto my protesting children every day. When the sunscreen high wore off I came to and found myself somewhere at the end of June. Then panic set in.

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Oh, dear God, I have to keep these children busy for how many more weeks? Tell me again how I’m supposed to balance work life and being their personal chauffeur without going totally broke or completely bonkers? A friend of mine said it best when she admitted that she basically works all summer so her kids can recreate. I hear you loud and clear sister. A summer full of activities tends to empty the pocketbook real fast.

By July, the wheels started gradually falling off this mom bus. I felt more frazzled as I tried to figure out whose grand idea it was to schedule soccer followed by swim class with a measly fifteen-minute window. No longer did I feel like mingling poolside because I had 23 errands piled up that I had not gotten to since June.

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To add to my barely controlled chaos Basalt and El Jebel started burning down. I slept horribly for days as I worried about the firefighters, our environment, and many of my friends and family who were evacuated. During this time we housed several people, along with their terrified cat and a hamster named Chewy.

When summer camp ended and our childcare center went on break for August I started fantasizing about roasting those dreaded color coded schedules.  If it were not for the fire ban I might have happily set them ablaze. And enrichment — what the heck is that again? All the juggling had my nerves frayed. I started tossing out rules that I had in place like “ No T.V. before reading, chores or creating something.” and replacing them with “Sure. Watch another show.”

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I figured the first day of school was not far off so my kids’ brains couldn’t possibly atrophy too much in the final weeks. And seeing that I forked up the money for all that summer recreating was it too much to ask for a few hours of quiet, Nerf gun-free time so I could finally finish my book or enjoy some rosé on the patio without the load of guilt of too much screen time?

I just did a splendid job of making summer break sound like such a drag when in reality it was  fun. Looking back I see there were so many positives like skipping 10,000 rocks in different lakes and rivers,  squishing our faces on the glass at the top of the Sears Tower, catching lightning bugs for the first time, and making the most of camping without one single s’more being roasted.

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But, with all that said, the new school year is here and my work/mom balance, but especially my wallet, are extremely grateful. As our children go back to school and all those saintly teachers charge bravely into yet another school year to grow the minds of our amazing, yet exhausting little beings, I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. And, dear teachers, when you’re at your wits end with scheduling, planning and dealing with my children, this mama will not only completely understand, but will also make sure to save you all a large helping of this rosé.

Judith Ritschard was born by the sea in Mexico then transplanted to the Roaring Fork Valley where she turned full on mountain girl. You might spot her in her huarache sandals on her townie bike trying to keep up with her two wildlings in Carbondale.

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