Saturday is National Relaxation AND National Failures Day. Coincidence? Let’s nonsensically ponder it.
Some would say if you relax too much, you’ll fail at life. As a society, our nation seems more driven than most. We enjoy far less vacation time than most European countries. Our average annual paid vacation time is 8.9 days, whereas most European countries’ is 20-25 days. Have we failed to relax? Despite fewer vacation days, our nation is more obese and debt-ridden than ever before. So, while we are failures at relaxing, perhaps we are successful at being complete failures! Should we, as a country, be celebrating one or two holidays on Saturday?
Birthday card available here. Copy inside continues to read "Hope your birthday is especially gratifying!"
Speaking of failure to relax, school starts back soon, and I am already dreading it. This is one area I am working to be more Ungirdled about. I am constantly worried if I should be pushing my children so they won’t “fail.” Thanks to their teachers, peers, and society in general, my boys already seem to feel pressured enough to do well in school, take AP classes, and make sure they have enough extracurricular activities and community service hours for college applications. Consequently, I often find myself telling them to relax, that there’s a college for everyone. Summer comes, and for the most part, they become sloth. I know that this is largely due to the pressure they feel during the school year, and they just shut down in recuperative protest.
This causes me to worry that I am failing as a mother by not pushing them to do more in the summer. I encounter lots of other moms who, since their children were five, have had them doing at least one sport year ‘round, doing a camp, class or other activity every week during summer break, staying active in church, staying on track to earn Boy or Girl Scouting’s highest honors, and more. Some of these moms even send their kids to school when they’re sick (Motrin takes care of the fever, they figure, so what if he feels miserable and contaminates others? He can’t miss school!) These kids are like the army: they get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day. Their moms are busier than the busiest Hollywood agents managing their school careers and extracurricular activities. Mine are nowhere near as busy, and I can't even keep my house clean or figure out what to have for dinner.
Even at the high school level, these mothers know every homework assignment, every project, and the date of every test. During the school year, school truly is the center of the universe in our home, but I have to stop to remember what courses my boys are taking. (I am able to name them all – but it takes me a minute!) These mothers also know which teacher is best for every subject and angle and finagle for their children to get those teachers. They’ve long known what each state college is looking for and constantly remind me it’s getting harder and harder to get in. I have tried to keep up with these moms, but I’ve failed. Miserably. Failure is not an option for their kids. Neither, it seems, is relaxation (not very often, anyway). So, I have a feeling neither of Saturday’s holidays will be observed by these families.
We had a couple of families over for dinner this weekend. One guest, a college professor and one of our best friends who I greatly like and admire, asked my two 16 year-olds what they wanted to do. (“Do” as in study and then have as a career.) My boys both said they didn’t know. Her reply to me was a concerned, “Oh, you better get on them.” She then turned to our 14 year-old female guest and asked her the same question. The 14 year old was able to rattle off her life plan, including what neighborhood in Savannah she would retire in (this was after attending Yale and enjoying a career in genetics). This caused me to plan on having another beer.
Some days, I get caught up in this rat race and feel like a rat for not having it together better and pushing my boys to do more. Other days, I relax, feeling it will all be just fine. I tell my boys that as long as they do their best, treat others right and follow their bliss (that is finding their true calling, honoring their natural talents to fulfill their purpose) it will all work out. I tell them that the true definition of success is being happy most of the time and being able to meet your basic needs and those of any offspring you have. Then I realize I am successful by my own definition (or at least I have the happy part covered while I was smart enough to marry their dad who has the "meeting the needs" part covered) and wonder why I fail to relax about their futures.
So, which holiday do l celebrate tomorrow? I feel like most of the time I am too relaxed about my kids' school careers and futures, so I am consequently a failure, but that makes me pretty uptight when I stop to think about it, so I am a failure at relaxing, making me successful at failing. Do I really deserve either holiday? Or should I just relax about the whole thing?
Which will you celebrate? National Relaxation Day or National Failures Day? Or both? Either way, have a great one!