Today is a day full of things I don't want to do but must be done. And unfortunately, since I am the adult and in charge around here, I guess I'm the one to do them.
First off, waking the kids up at 6:00am to go to school. It's just a stinky thing to have to do. As I hear every single year, I got the, "Mom, why don't you homeschool?" The reasons are numerous, dear child.
I'd like to say that the little boys and I then had a fabulously fun day, just the three of us. Alas, not. We have a huge, out-of-state soccer tournament this weekend, so lots to do to get ready. Namely, washing 30 loads of laundry. My great set-up of having the kids do their own laundry had to take a break. I am the only one who can give the washing machine the love and attention it craves in order to get it to spin the water out of the clothes. When I let the kids do it, they either bring up a 100 pound basket full of sopping wet clothes to put on the line, or put the same 100 pounds in the dryer, which takes approximately nine hours to dry. So, I get to do the laundry again.
Lastly, one thing I had to do just plain hurt.
Two days ago I wrote about traditions and how important they are in a family. One tradition we've had for at least five years now is to throw a huge Labor Day party. Each year our yard is taken over by 60 kids and their parents. We supply the burgers and hot dogs, set up a medical tent stocked with band-aids, sunscreen, bug-spray, and water, and welcome friends and their side dishes. Everyone has an absolute blast, playing normal things like volleyball and kickball, but coming up with plenty of their own activities. Most of the boys usually end up having an "apple war" where they split up into two teams and pelt each other with apples.
So many people come that Hubby started buying a keg. The dad's put it under a tree, plop themselves in chairs all around it, and have themselves a grand time talking and laughing between games of volleyball.
Kids love the freedom to play on the barn roof, in the dirt, and in the chicken pen with 20 of their closest friends for hours, without ever once checking in with their parents.
Parents love the freedom of knowing that they have hours to fellowship with all of their friends without having to worry about their kids.
Some comments we've heard from kids and parents over the years:
"That was the best day of my life!"
"Our family is so boring. Why can't we live on a farm?"
"I look forward to this day more than any other."
Today I sent an email to all of those people who were expecting an invitation. Instead of an invitation, they received a non-invite. We cancelled the party for this year.
It actually hurt to send it. I love having kids over to experience the farm and giving the adults a chance to connect with friends they don't get to see very much.
However, in my old age, I have come to realize that you can't do things just because people want you to. You need to evaluate the things you do, and ask yourself, "Is this working for my family and me at this time?"
Sometimes, a tradition just isn't working.
As I filled in our calendar, the weekends just kept filling up, as they do every year. I started to get tired just thinking about the endless things to do. Places to go. Tasks to complete.
And I began thinking about how it just isn't going to get any better. Next year Phoenix heads off to high school. And each year after that, someone else will, until it's time for Phoenix to head off to college. High school means driver's licenses, jobs, and high school sports. Oh, and lots of high school homework. College means things I don't even want to contemplate.
Our open weekends are becoming very limited. I feel the need to take advantage of the ones we do have. Spending time getting ready for the party, rushing to get the good apples picked and canned before the "apple war" just isn't taking advantage of our free time. Especially in light of the fact that I don't even see my kids during the party.
So, even though it will upset people all over town, including my own children, we've decided to do something fun that doesn't include a week of preparations and clean-up. We're still working on what that fun thing is going to be. I'll keep you posted.
In addition, throughout the year, instead of these great big parties, where I hardly get to talk to anyone, we'll start having just one or two families over at a time. To chat. To connect. To have fun. Without taking away days of time with my kids.
I'm not ruling out the chance that there will be a party again next year. It could happen that all of the teen and preteen angst will come out on our supposedly fun weekend, and at the end I will proclaim, "What was I thinking?? The party is so much better than this!"
We'll just have to see.
Have a lovely day!