Why Summer Break Scares Me

Filed under: Opinions

Summer break has begun.

Some moms are thrilled about this. They can't wait to go on adventures and hang out all day long for weeks at a time with their kids. Their calendars are already filled with plans for family field trips and crafts and such. They are giddy just thinking about it.

I'm not one of them.

The summer scares me. It makes me nervous. I feel like I don't know how to entertain my children all the time. I can only do it in short bits and bites. And then what? They'll go off for a while and play on their own, but then it's back to Mama. Mama, watch this. Mama, do that. Mama, play this imaginary game with me. Mama, read this book to me. Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama.

I'm staring down the barrel of 10 weeks straight worth of figuring out what to do to entertain these fabulous creatures, and it scares me that I don't have 10 weeks worth of entertaining things to do.

People use the word "overwhelming" or "overwhelmed" quite a bit when discussing postpartum depression and its equally unpleasant cousins, postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. Even though I'm years away from having postpartum OCD, and even though I adore being a mom to my children, I can still get that feeling of being overwhelmed. It's not like it was when I was sick, of course, but I sometimes have moments of feeling like it's all too much.

It's almost like I love my children SO much and feel SO responsible for their every happiness that I'm full up, and then it boils over and then ... well, then I need space. And quiet. Does that sound horrible? I mean, if you know me, you know how much I adore my children. You know how, when I'm spending time with them, it is bona fide, grade-A, full-eye-contact QUALITY time.

But then, sometimes, I need a break from it, and I feel guilty for that. It's like the intimacy I feel is required, and willingly wanting to engage in with my babies takes up so much energy that I can only do so much of it before I have to go refill myself in a solitary place.

I sometimes wonder if my tendency to be introverted and issues with intimacy are what make it hard for me to get excited about the summer, and, perhaps, also contributed to my experience with postpartum OCD. I just don't know how to make it all perfect (did I say perfect? yes, I'm a guilty perfectionist), and I feel weighted down and guilty by the inability to meet perfection.

This is why summer scares me -- because I know I can't make it perfectly fun and entertaining all the time, and so I feel like I've failed before I've even begun. Completely neurotic, I know.

Am I the only one?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.