Let me start by saying that I've started and stopped and deleted sections of this post and started again like 3 times now, because I keep changing my mind about how I feel about this and what I'm going to do. With the input of my husband, of course. Highly symbolic.
We couldn't really expect to get out of this nasty national economic climate completely unscathed. My job is in great shape - private healthcare higher education is a good place to be right now. Husband, however, works for a smaller company in a far more vulnerable business. Due to a slow summer, we recently found out that he is being forced to take one day off per week, unpaid.
Don't get me wrong - we'll take it. He's still employed full time with a steady paycheck amount, allowing us to budget accordingly. However it did mean finding something in our monthly budget that had some flexibility.
I think it's safe to say that our income loss is going to be our boys' dream come true - not going to summer camp. They are technically old enough to stay at home on their own, and we have many neighbors around who can help in a dire emergency. And my office is only 10 minutes away. Naturally my preference is to have them occupied at camp, getting exercise, socializing with new kids, NOT playing video games all day. But right now, we don't have much of a choice. And they are elated.
I'll be honest - it has been absolutely killing me. And I'm the first to admit that it's not just that I worry about them, which I do. You see, I'm sort of a controlling parent, and, I think I have to admit that the problem is largely having no control over what they do from 8-5 if they are home alone. Oh, I can leave lists of chores, insist that they read an A/R book for 30 minutes, tell them to do some typing tutorials online to sharpen their skills, get out and ride your bikes with your friends - but, ultimately, I have absolutely no control whatsoever over what they do.
I know, I know. I've read all the parenting books. Instead of writing this blog post, I need to be creating a chart of all the productive things I want them to do throughout the day, and then they get rewarded if they follow it. But let's be honest. Even if I ask, I still can't force them to do what I think they should do all day. And we don't have the extra cash to pull together any nice incentives.
I've been so stressed about it the past week that I've had two extremely disturbing dreams about people breaking into my house and threatening to harm my family. I don't take my dreams literally - but it's a clear message that I'm worrying more than I should. So stressed that last night I did an about face and worked with our budget for over an hour trying to find a way to put them back in summer camp. God bless my husband who just goes with the flow, knowing that eventually I'll come full circle and return to my senses.
That happened tonight, I think. It sort of hit me, after talking to my Mom, talking to my husband, and doing some soul searching, that as long as they are happy, and I know they are safe, what am I so concerned about? I sat them down after work tonight and asked them - are you having fun? Are you bored? Do you feel frightened? Are you okay with this? The clear answer was that they are totally FINE. Fine, Mom, quit worrying!
We talked about finding books that they are passionate about and making reading fun. We signed up for the library reading program where they win prizes for reading. I'm trying to make it fun, instead of a chore. And when I approached it that way, their enthusiasm skyrocketed, and I was flooded with relief.
Ultimately, it's about control. Granted, it's control out of love, as in wanting the best for my children over the summer, wanting them to make good choices, and wanting them to have fun...all on my terms. But I need to loosen the reigns a little and give them some freedom. It is becoming abundantly clear that this camp-less summer is going to teach me as much as it's going to teach the boys. I need to see this as an opportunity for them to spread their wings and gain some confidence. I absolutely have to let go a little, which is pretty hard for me.
I can't promise I won't worry again tomorrow...but I am hopeful that I'm in a much better place.