Sunday, June 17, 2007

Life's a Beach

Life is a beach. Or so they say. All I know is I can’t wait to get to one.

School is out for summer. I’m frenetic because our babysitter went on vacation—two days after my book came out. One day before school let out. What could I tell her when she asked? Her nephew back in Poland is sick. Very sick. She had to go. I gulped, then choked out, “Of course, it’s fine.”

We did find interim childcare, but the turmoil of the last two weeks has been intense. And everyone knows what the last week of school is like—the plays, the concerts, the picnics, the parties.

I dream of the beach. When I first met my husband, he’d never been on a beach vacation. Now, he wonders if there’s any other kind. Every year we go to Florida for spring break. Same place. Same condo. Considering my career choice, I don’t like to travel much. And now, after ten years, my sons are addicted to beach vacations, too.

Each summer, we try to grab a piece of that, heading down to North Avenue Beach for the day. Today is Father’s Day and my husband knows we plan on the beach tomorrow. The boys want to watch a movie tonight—but it will keep us all up late. My husband says, in a way that fills me with a surge of guilt, “I have to be at work early tomorrow.”

I think, Poor Jeff. He has to work tomorrow. And we’re going to the beach. Which is when I think of all the things I should be doing tomorrow. All the millions of errands and chores and calls and wouldas and couldas and shouldas that should happen tomorrow if I don’t want to hate myself on Tuesday.

My first novel was released two weeks ago. My babysitter/cleaning lady is off. I need to follow-up with bookstores about book signings. My checkride is in August. I need to schedule my annual mammogram and take the dog to the vet.

I busted my butt this weekend—grocery shopping, doing errands, writing a few more e-mails, sending one more promotional postcard for my book, all because the boys and I want to get to the beach tomorrow. I had doctor’s appointments and dentist appointments scheduled all through June, and tomorrow, we were supposed to take the dog to the vet. “When am I going to find time for summer?!”

The boys and I looked at each other, the same idea in our eyes. I called the vet, “We need to reschedule. Wrigley is very busy and she simply can’t be there Monday.”

With all due respect to the soldiers of Normandy, I feel like I’ve been through a war. It’s amazing how hard we’ve had to fight for the beach. It shouldn’t be this way, but it’s a battle worth winning. It’s too easy to fill your days with those woulda, coulda, shouldas. And as sad as I am that my husband will be at the office tomorrow, I refuse to feel guilt. I worked hard for my day at the beach, too.

Usually, when we plan beach days, I send out e-mails to the moms of all my boys’ fifth grade friends: If you can join us, we’ll be at North Avenue, fourth lifeguard pier from the boat. But as we ate our cornflakes Friday morning, I said, “Hey guys. Do you think maybe Monday it could be just us? No friends?”

I was stunned, to the point of tears, when they first looked at each other, then at me, and said, “Yes!”