In review, it's been an odd month. Although my family has been on vacation since the last days of May, that summertime feeling still hasn't kicked in for me. Instead, I have a feeling of waiting for the fun to begin.
I started the month buried under a ton of work. The big event took place that first weekend, and turned out to be more exhausting than I had anticipated. Additionally, the work from that event has trailed out over the last few weeks, keeping me from feeling like there's been a clean break. The event itself went very well, and I felt proud of my work for it. The organization, on the other hand, is deeply troubled and having all sorts of personnel and mission issues that rippled down to impact our local work quite a lot. So part of my attention has been there.
I also haven't felt free and lighthearted because of the ongoing issues with my car. Between mid-May and now, my car went to the mechanic five times for the same a/c problems. Additionally, we rebuilt the transmission at another garage. That means that I probably spent at least half the days last month without my car, maybe even more. It's sort of become this blur of inconvenience and expense. I finally got my car back Friday, and I'm not sure the a/c is any better than when I first took it in. I'm just exhausted of trying to work it out with the garage. Before, I considered them my regular mechanic. Now I don't know that I can trust them to get a repair right. My confidence in their abilities has plummeted. My glove compartment is put back together crooked; there's a dent in my driver-side door; my car is filthy and an odd smell lingers. All in all, it's been a terrible month for car issues.
With my focus, and quite a few of my hours, devoted to getting my car fixed properly, my work output decreased considerably. That means I didn't hit my goals for June, and now we start July without the income we'll need for the month. Also, my main client had a personal issue that made her drop out of touch with me halfway through the month. So part of my time was spent worrying about that. I've finally made contact with her and gotten the information I needed so at least we are set to continue our working relationship for next month and on into Autumn.
Ah, Autumn. As much as I hate the demands of the school year -- and I truly do-- at least the structure of the days will force me to get more work done. The best part of this summer to date, by far, has been the feeling of relaxation that our family has. All four of us are mellow and easy-going. There's a feeling that our time is our own. During the school year, all time always belongs to the school. There is always homework and more homework, projects to do, items needed for the week, bedtimes and getting up times and bells ringing to divide the day into success or punishment. I don't miss any of that while we're on vacation!
So there's the reasons why June was a bit tough. I'm okay with seeing those things behind me, although I'm sad that the month wasn't more fun. It feels like the time off together is so precious, and I hate to see it just slipping away.
There are two stressors right now that keep dancing around my mind and keeping me awake. One is short term and will be over soon if I just grit my teeth and get through it. The other is longer term, but I can't do much to impact it except try to be at peace.
So the short term stressor is family. My brother, his wife, my neice and nephew are due to arrive sometime tomorrow for this week. While a big part of me is delighted to see them, particularly to get some time with the little ones, another part of me is completely reluctant. If I am honest with myself, I find their family quite stressful. Both my brother and sister-in-law are prone to being somewhat self-focused and snappy, so being around them often feels like a long careful dance of trying not to offend them, while getting my own feelings hurt. Additionally, I do a lot of cooking, dishes, and general clean up when they're around, none of which they are helpful with. The payoff is decreasing with each visit. I think I feel a bit blindsided because I didn't initiate this visit at all. They simply told us that since they had vacation time they would be visiting us for this week. Now, they made these plans months ago, and I could have protested or derailed them but I didn't. So now I'm as much a party to this as anyone.
I hope it will be able to be a pleasant visit. I'm determined to be easy going and pleasant and let things flow off my back like water. I just want to enjoy spending time with my children and their cousins, like a family should during summer vacation.
But given my choice I wouldn't have hosted guests this week. I don't much like Fourth of July anyway. To me it's a hard holiday to celebrate. There's a lot of anxiety in trying to get to a place to adequately view fireworks, avoiding crowds and traffic, but not feeling like you're missing out on all this tremendous fun. We used to always go to a friend's bbq, but they stopped doing that in recent years. After a few bad occasions, I thought I had cleverly solved the firework question last year by booking a hotel in San Diego with an amazing view of the display. That's where we would have been this year instead of hosting family who doesn't care a fig about fireworks. Which means that I have to come up with some other meaningful way to celebrate that doesn't involve dragging everyone around to see them. Maybe my family should just go on our own?
In any case, their visit is the kind of mental pressure that I don't need right now. I thrive when I have stability, predictability, accomplishment and fun. I don't do well with the kind of unstructured schedule, series of small stressors, and interpersonal dynamics I'm dealing with right now. Knowing that is one thing; doing something with that self-knowledge is another.
But it's only five or six days, so I think my best bet is just to get through it, hour by hour. Try to relax and make it as enjoyable as I can. Not expect too much and not be too disappointed in any result. And remind myself that our REAL vacation can take place the rest of July, in the three precious weeks we'll have left.
(And I know. Our family is darn lucky. We're talking about vacation in weeks instead of days, like most families. I know.)
The one shining bright spot of this summer so far has been our family relationships. Everyone is getting along with everyone. The girls spend little time bickering, and lots of time doing stuff together. I adore being around the girls, just enjoying every minute with them. And S and I are doing really well together. We have the most peaceful, contented relationship we've had in years. That lack of anxiety and drama is nice just in and of itself. It's such a relief not to be fighting or stressed about fighting. I think the general relaxation has also decreased some of my drive to plan activities and trips. While there are a lot of places I want to go together, and things I want to do, I suppose they can wait until we get to them. If July works out then fine. Otherwise, we'll just have to keep having fun in Autumn. And not let school run every bit of our lives!