08/09/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Embrace Your Inner Sloth

This summer was supposed to be the one where I did everything that I've been wanting to do since the day I found out that I was pregnant with my now-11 year old and was forced to cancel that biking trip to France's wine country. This was to be the "summer of freedom": both of my children are away at sleep-away camp for seven weeks, and I have nothing to do except whatever I want to do.

Last summer was the first time my kids went away to sleep-away camp. However, we had also just moved from the city to the suburbs (and by "just", I mean the day after the kids left for camp, the moving trucks arrived). Thus, I spent a large part of my summer unpacking and organizing and spreading what had been crammed into 1800 square feet into something quite a bit larger. Plus, I had to learn to use my new car, my navigation system, my Bluetooth, my intercom. I had to set up the security system, the phone, the cable service, the internet, the wireless router. There was furniture to buy. There were pictures to hang. There was also the overgrown, underloved garden that was begging for attention. So, there was lots to do and not much leisure time, although I did manage to get in a few impromptu bike rides and lots and lots of yoga (of course).

This summer, the garden was already in full bloom by the time the kids left for camp. The unpacking, the phone, the cable and wireless and other home-related stuff had long been accomplished. The suburban-life learning curve had long been ascended.


And so, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do, for which I finally had the time. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Two yoga sessions each day, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon to keep the stretch going on a 24/7 basis.

2. Organic, homemade, home-grown dinners every night.

3. Bike riding every Sunday along the Bronx River Parkway - the scenic route which is closed to cars every summer Sunday morning.

4. Take those horseback riding lessons that I won at an auction, all four of them, and maybe even book a few more if four turned out to be not enough to satisfy my inner equestrian.

5. Organize 12 years of family photos into the new matching library volumes I purchased this winter for that purpose.

6. Lunch and a movie with my BFF in the city every Wednesday, as we discussed before the summer began.

I could go on. But it's too painful.

How many of the items on that list have I accomplished? Do I have to tell you?


Not a single one.

Instead of two yoga sessions per day, I have barely managed to bring myself to the mat once per day. In fact, five times per week is my average, exactly as it was during the school year. Organic, homemade, home-grown dinners every night? How about... not at all. The Husband has been working hard this summer and it's not fun for me to cook for one. And even when he gets home in time for dinner, we end up going out in town. In addition, my tomatoes are still green on the vine, and here's the worst part of it all, my dirty little home-gardening secret: I really don't like my home-grown lettuce at all. The arugula is way too peppery, and the rest of it -- ubiquitous leafy greens -- are tepid and flabby and cannot compare to what I can buy at Whole Foods.

Oh, the shame.

The bike riding happened once, but it was before the kids left for camp. In fact, it was WITH the kids. We did it together, and it did not go well at all. I inadvertently led them so far along the route that when the Parkway opened to cars at 2 p.m., we were still struggling to make our way back to the parking lot where our car was waiting. We were politely but sternly escorted off the Parkway and onto the city streets of White Plains. In the rain. We were lost, wet and a bit unnerved. I haven't been back since.

Not to mention the fact that I broke my toe the day the kids left for camp, which made putting on my biking sneakers kind of uncomfortable, nay, impossible.

That also goes a long way toward explaining why I haven't been over to the stables yet to claim my riding lessons. If I can't wear sneakers comfortably, I certainly can't wear boots. But here's another dirty little secret? I really don't care. Now that I am looking summer square in the eye, I am finding that I have little (or no) desire to get on a horse.

I also have little (or no) desire to sit down with an enormous pile of photos. But in my defense, well, what was I thinking? Organizing photos is an indoor job, clearly winter's work.

As for lunch and a movie every Wednesday, K and I did manage to meet at Le Pain Quotidien on the Upper East Side for coffee last Wednesday after my yoga class. But neither of us has been motivated, or organized, enough to make the appropriate plans to make our Wednesday get-togethers happen. Let's face it, she has one kid who doesn't go to sleep-away camp. And I have, well, lots and lots of excuses.

The bottom line is that I've been a slug. A sloth. A lazy-assed, heat-addled wastrel.

But here is the dirtiest of my dirty little secrets, one which I have only begun to reveal to myself: I LIKE it this way.

When I look at all the plans I made before the summer began (plans to make plans, really), I didn't take into account the one activity in which I really really really wanted to participate this summer. It is the one activity in which I am least capable of participating during the school year, the one activity which is LEAST consistent with being a mom: doing nothing.

The reality is that I am sure that if I really wanted to do something other than nothing, I would have found a way. Thus, I am left to surmise that what I really wanted to do on my summer vacation was nothing.

This morning I reached the very pinnacle of laziness (I hope). I didn't go to yoga class despite that I had planned to do so because, well, there was something I realized that I wanted to do more: sleep late, which is just another version of doing nothing, and something that I can never do when the kids are home. Once I woke up, shortly after 10 a.m., I proceeded to do... nothing. Oh, wait, I did watch the first five episodes of the first season of AMC's awesome original series, Mad Men. Even though I had watched them last summer. I didn't even manage to have a cup of coffee until sometime around 3 p.m. I'm not really sure why I even bothered with the coffee since afterwards, I did... nothing.

I won't lie: there is a part of me that feels very very guilty about doing all of this nothing. But I'm working on coming to terms with it, with this notion that what I thought I wanted wasn't what I really wanted, and that what I really wanted was something as simple as, well, nothing. And when I do, when I finally toss out that burdensome to-do list, that well-intentioned hell of my own making, I will have accomplished the one thing that is truly worth accomplishing this summer. I will have accomplished embracing my inner sloth.

And when I do, then it will truly be the "summer of freedom."