Spring Hell, I mean, Break.
Spring break has ended. Two weeks (yes, in our school district it is two weeks, not one) of being off from school. Two weeks with my kids at home; no holidays, no trips, no plans, nothing.
Was I excited for them to go back to school? Meh. Sure, I guess.
Did I survive it? Yeah. I did. I barely noticed the time go by.
Would I have said the same thing a few years ago?
Hell. Fucking. No.
In fact, three years ago (my kids were 6 and 9) when I finally came to the end of spring break I had said, “Never again will I spend a spring break at home doing nothing.”
And I meant it. (Also a reason why you should never say never, because, well, three years later, never happens and if someone quoted you on that never, you’d then have to eat crow. Seeing as I’m the only one who really remembers it, I’m the only one who can throw it in my face, and I’m not gonna, so it’s okay. But I am going to pay attention to my use of the word, never.)
As previously mentioned, I live in Northern Canada, more specifically, northern British Columbia (No. We’re nowhere near Vancouver. I think we have more in common with Russia than we do with Vancouver, despite the fact that anyone who sees that I live in BC who is not from around here usually follows that with, “Oh! I love Vancouver!” Yeah. Great. Good for you. I’d probably love it too if I lived anywhere close to it!!! But I don’t!!!).
Here, in the north, there’s not a whole lot going on, unless it’s hockey or the oilfield. In fact, that’s why we have a two week spring break in the first place. Many, many years ago we couldn’t get enough teachers to come here and work, so as enticement, they were offered a two-week spring break so they would have time to go home and visit the family from which they’d moved far, far away (because again, we don’t live anywhere near Vancouver!). The problem with a two-week spring break in good ol’ Dawson Creek, is that it’s not actually spring. So unless you are going home to visit your family, there’s nothing to do!
Or, so it can be when you have little kids. Because, it’s not spring, so you can’t get outside and do yard work, or plant a garden, or you know, do the stuff you would do in spring. Or, you could one day, because it might feel like spring for a day, then it will go back to winter, but then it might warm up and melt and feel like spring again, but then get cold and now icy from the melting snow, and then…and then…
You see, winter starts in September here. Hell, sometimes it starts in August. And it tends to go until April (my daughter’s birthday is April 20 and half the time it’s beautiful and lovely out and half the time is cold and snowy. You never know what’s going to happen!), so by the time spring break comes in March, you’re so fucking sick of it that you don’t really want to get outside and ski/snowboard/snowmobile or whatever else you crazy outdoorsy people do. Yes, spring skiing is beautiful and warm, but, honestly, spring is supposed to be about pussy willows and green grass and sun if you haven’t seen those things in six-seven months.
Although, we do have sun. Usually. In the afternoons for sure…
Okay, back to my spring break three years ago. It was a particularly bad year. Not much snow, not enough to go snowboarding without severe risk of injury due to ice, but it was also too cold to actually do anything outside. Besides, outside wasn’t fun because it was this awful mix of dirty, muddy, snow. There was no green. No flowers in bloom. It was spring break in Dawson.
So, with two young children, not really any snow, no grass, and two weeks off of school, I was ready to hand them off to the mother moose who’d moved into my back yard and head to Vancouver (after all, I’d heard it’s beautiful!). I’m sure that moose could have done a better job than I had, she would have had more patience at the end of those two weeks than I had.
I swore I would never stay home at spring break with nothing to do again. NEVER.
Until this year came along and I got too busy to book a holiday (Yup, shocking. For me, that’s stupid busy. That’s putting on a children’s musical right before spring break and not having anything done or thinking you’ll ever be ready, busy.) and my kids were too damn tired from all their activities to want to go anywhere anyways, and I was to busy to argue with them.
So we stayed home.
And it was awesome.
My kids did chores. They watched TV. They played video games. The practiced their instruments. They read. They went snowboarding. They played board games. They hung out with friends. They baked. They went to gymnastics.
Was I involved in any of these activities?
No. Not really. Not unless I wanted to be. In fact, I usually worked while they did chores. I actually got more work done over these two weeks than I do when they’re at school because I’m not stuck running them back and forth, taking them to activities, bringing them their lunches they’d forgotten (or in the case of today, getting a call to bring them pants because they fell in a mud puddle. Pants which are waiting to be delivered until after I finish this post, which will then be the end of school, which means I’m really hoping he’s not that wet…).
They entertained themselves. There were no tears unless it was from a movie. Hardly any fighting (because I threatened to give them more chores every time they argued) and I never once wished school was back in session (which I did every five minutes three years ago!).
It was lovely.
And you know what? I never would have imagined it could have been this easy, this enjoyable, three years ago.
When they were little, it was hell. I didn’t think I could make it through the day. This year? I hardly knew what day it was because it didn’t matter. But did I know this would happen three years ago? Could I imagine that there would come a time when I could get through two weeks off school with my kids in the middle of not winter but not spring break and never feel like I wanted to slit my wrists?
At one point, I dropped my son off at gymnastics. It was drop in so anyone could go. I did not realize that many parents of young kids and toddlers take their kids to drop-in gymnastics on a regular basis, so when we walked in I was struck by the hoards of little children running amok. Little children running around while their parents stayed to watch, to referee, to hand off water bottles, to wipe away tears and to pick them up when they’d fallen or run into another oblivious toddler.
As I stepped over the legs and the arms and the coats and the snacks to go pay for my son, I smiled at the parents waiting. They seemed happy, but tired as well. Stuck there, waiting for their children, their only moment to themselves the two hours spent in a noisy gymnastics center full of screaming children (okay, it probably wasn’t that bad and the gymnastics ladies are awesome in this town, don’t get me wrong!) while I told my kid to behave and took off to go write at Starbucks while enjoying a coffee in the quiet serenity of my beats headphones and the solitude of my aloneness. As I pushed on the exit door, I took one look back at the kids and thought, oh, I am so happy I am not there.
Yes, I love my kids. But did I love every moment of raising them? No. Not at all. Yes, they were cute and awesome as toddlers and when I look back on the pictures of them I wish I could go back and squish their chubby cheeks and tickle their pudgy stomachs. But I don’t wish that every waking moment of my life were devoted to them and their needs. I love that my children are independent and self-sufficient while still wanting to spend time with me. I love that I’m not that parent that had to wake up at 5:00 that morning because that’s what time their kid wakes up despite the fact that their mom had gone to bed at 2 AM because from midnight til then is the only time she had to herself and waking up 3 hours later to a hungry toddler is hell itself. I love that my kids can scream for me to get them water and I can scream back, “get it yourself!” I love that I don’t have to referee their fights or cut up their hot dogs, or even make them their hot dogs because they can do it themselves.
Spring break was draining on some of these moms (yeah, yeah, not all of you, I know. Some of you live for their sticky faces and pooey bums. That’s great. I’m sure there’s blogs out there celebrating that!) and I wanted to tell them, don’t worry, it gets better. It gets so much better. But that takes away from what they’re going through right now. And, right now, they have some freakin’ adorable kids while mine are just, well, dorky kids (just kidding kids, you’re great. Even if you do wear rainbow leggings with a paisley shirt and a plaid overtop!). And I remember someone telling me, when I wanted to die after a 5 AM wake up call, that it gets easier, and I never believed them. I couldn’t. I was too tired.
But it does. It got so much easier. Hell, it got awesome.
And that is the case with everything. Nothing hard lasts forever. Spring break ends. They go back to school. They grow up and drive themselves back to school. Hell, they get big and work all of spring break so even if you wanted to go on a holiday they can’t go with you.
I know there will come a time when spring break no longer applies to me and I’ll be wishing for toddlers again. And that will also be a time where I won’t have to spend my time working my ass off to be a writer and make something of myself because I’ll finally have been published and all these rejections and fears and insecurities will part of my story as an author. They will have been a time in my past that was only a memory of when things were hard.
And it will be a time when I’ll have some other rough patch in my life in which I’ll need someone to remind me that this too, will pass.
Because it always does.
My kids are back at school and maybe even soon, spring will come to Dawson (okay, I’m exaggerating, I can see about 30% of the brown, dead grass that is my lawn so it’s probably coming. Sure, there will be a snowstorm around Easter, I’m sure, but it won’t last. It never does) and I will think on winter with fond memories, and then think on spring break with fond memories, and maybe wish I had it back when I’m going into two full months with my kids off from school when summer break inevitably shows up. I don’t know, because I have no idea what the future holds. Three years ago I never thought I’d survive, much less choose, a spring break spent at home with my kids. Three years from now, I might wish those kids were actually home with me instead of off with friends and I will be telling myself, oh, this too shall pass. Soon enough, they’ll want to hang out with you again.
Do you get what I’m saying? Nothing lasts forever. No, I’m not telling you to enjoy every moment even if it’s hard because it will be gone soon enough. That’s just way too cliché. But I am saying, anything hard or shitty that you’re going through right now, might actually be what makes you appreciate something else in your life three years or three days from now. Living through stuff makes it so much easier down the road. And, when you come out of it and you see someone else go through it, you can smile and show them, you’ll survive. If I did, you will.
So if they did, then I will as well.