I'm failing at summer. One week in and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it to autumn with a passing grade.
This is my first summer in the terms that I knew it as a child. With my son completing his first year in elementary school, the seasons are once again dictated by the school calendar. Summer, those rogue months in which we break free from the lockstep of the formal year and kick up our heels in a Kool-Aid-induced jig, has returned. Except I'm not doing it right.
During this past school year, my son had the option to either catch the bus at 6:25 a.m. or leave the house at 7:05 a.m. to be driven to school by my husband or me. I prefer not to be awake before 8 a.m.
No one tells you that you will lose sleep forever when you have children. Sure, they all warn you about the first few months, when it's especially terrible. But no one talks about life after the kids start sleeping through the night. Perhaps it is because one would think we would recall our own early-hour starting times at school or running into our parents' rooms, begging them to turn on cartoons. Perhaps we should remember, but I certainly didn't.
My brother, in his 30s but childless, often calls at 2 p.m. completely groggy with an apologetic "I just woke up." Sometimes I just hang up the phone.
I don't need that kind of blatant cruelty in my life. And as is the case with most reasonable people, my daily kindness begins expiring after I've been awake for eight hours. It's not my fault he doesn't call within the clearly defined parameters.
For nearly the past six years, since having my son, I have survived on a diet of coffee and a whole bunch of food that I was too tired to recall eating.
And yet. Here we are, in summer. Camp, a mere eight-minute drive away, doesn't start until 9 a.m. A totally respectable hour! My kids are sleeping in until 7:45, an hour I never thought I'd be excited about but am.
There is a reason all the Disney princesses seem to live in lands of eternal summer. This way, they can wake up rosy, singing to the birds that greet them instead of meeting them with a slingshot. Since 2012, I've kept a bowl of marbles by my bed.
My son's last week of school, I began plotting my new summer life. Sleeping in until 7:45. Waking to the pitter-patter of my progeny running down the hall. I'd sit up and stretch my arms high above my head. I'd yawn a deep, refreshing breath that, despite being the first one of the awakened day, somehow would magically smell like peppermint and strawberries. I'd be wearing a silk peach nightgown, despite never owning anything of the sort. Then, seeing as we would be in no rush at all, I'd finally gear up my domestic side that I all but gave up on and make the kids waffles and omelets in the shape of whales. We'd sit out on the porch, where I'd drink coffee, read the paper — consisting solely of Maya Angelou quotations — and listen to my children tell stories. Oh, and Chris Pratt would bring over a bin of freshly baked croissants when he accidentally made too big a batch in his summer home two doors down. Ya know, a typical lovely summer morning.
But I'm doing it wrong. There is no rosy greeting of the morning, because I am still waking up in the 5 o'clock hour. The kids are in bed. We have nowhere to be for hours. But I am up — and cranky.
I considered using the time for useful things — working on my novel, taking up needlepoint, writing angry letters to my senators, making boots out of Popsicle sticks. But I don't. Because I don't want to be awake. I want to be embracing the summer slumber. I want to finally, for the first time in five-plus years, feel well-rested. So I pace, unsure of what to do with my time.
I think about that scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" in which George Bailey, pondering his next move, paces in front of an old house. If I remember right, he begins throwing rocks at the windows. If I don't get some summer sleep, those marbles next to my bed may finally be put to use.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.