I just ordered my kids back into the house in the middle of a sunny afternoon. The last straw came when a neighbor driving by stopped to yell at me that my baby was escaping, while her sister cried over a scooter-inflicted injury and I tried desperately to contain the chaos. I wound up throwing my cell phone into the bushes and tripping over the scooter myself.

“That’s it!” I shouted. “We are going inside! No more sunshine, no more scooters, no more picnic!”I scooped the baby up in one arm and the scooter in the other and marched right back into the house.

Which my two charming daughters proceeded to tear about is if bent on a mission of demolition. Within minutes they had broken furniture, skin, and what was left of my mind. But we are still inside.

What kind of ogre am I?

The kind of ogre that has to pay her mortgage, a task which involves finding the checkbook, writing the check and actually giving said check to her long-suffering housemate. The kind of ogre that has to make a phone call to a pediatric optometrist with the insane hubris to work only during hours that children are awake. The kind of ogre that has been wearing the same clothes for three days because there is nothing left in her drawers.

In other words, I’m an adult. And it turns out that those long lazy days of summer are not as idyllic for me at this point in my life as they were when I was five. Not only do I like games of tag and hide-n-seek a little less, but I find endless idleness less satisfying. Even on the days when I can spend the afternoon with other mom friends on a picnic blanket, knitting and chatting and passing time with pleasant grown-up pursuits while the kids play tag nearby… I don’t want every day to be an uninterrupted swath of play.

There is real work that must be done so that I and my family can continue to live well, and being prevented from doing it by a schedule of constant free play is, frankly, annoying. Playing all day long can be fun. Doing all the housework and finance work and personal work after the kids are *finally* asleep in their beds is not.

I believe passionately that my kids should have as much unstructured outdoor time as possible, every day of their too-short childhoods. I’m now running up against the reality that what is good for them is not always good for me. I know this of course, but here’s another opportunity to learn the lesson.

I realize it’s outrageous to be complaining that my day job is one that requires me to laze around at parks and playgrounds for nearly every sweet hour of warm sunshine the good earth gives us. It’s the very pinnacle of luxury angst, but once in awhile I envy my friends with office jobs.

Advertisements