It is 7:48 am and our outdoor thermometer is clearly broken. At the moment, it is registering the surface temperature on Venus… in pesos.
Our little Tax Deductions are restless. School starts on Tuesday. On Labor Day Weekend, carefree summer fun will take its last breath. And while summer is on life support, my children will be finishing required reading and art history papers, and will be getting a jumpstart on college and job applications. Where did summer go? And, I don’t mean this year. Rather, which year was it exactly that summer packed its bags of simple occupations and idle pleasures and caught a train for the city?
Rolling in the cut grass, drinking from the garden hose, playing in the sprinklers, and only returning home throughout the day with asphalt-blackened bare feet to hijack a Popsicle before rushing back to the game at hand: These are the things of summer which I remember. The joys of boredom and the spine-tingling anticipation of seeing friends on the first day of school before reality sets in – These were the emotions of my childhood summers.
Some days when I reward myself with a frivolous mind-wandering moment, I am stricken with the realization that our children have been orphaned, rendered summerless. This has come at the hands of our society, demanding more and better, a society which has established that the proper measure of self-worth is less in strength of character than heft of balance book. This has come at the hands of each of us, through our career choices or through our simple nonverbal communications. Demonstrating tremendous work ethic and drive to succeed are valuable gifts we impart. Taken to the extreme, our quests for success and financial reward become an endorsement for imbalance. Society may be robbing our children of their childhoods, but we are driving the getaway car.
You can easily pick me out of the line-up. For real estate agents, all the days are the same. The lines between weekend and weekday and workweek and holiday have become hopelessly blurred. In part, it is the nature of the business and the level of difficulty with which one (very few) can succeed, yet in part it is our own unwillingness to choose a different way.
So, today I choose to take the summer off. My summer begins today and, if I am successful, it will be endless. To be successful, I will need to resolve to a few behavioral changes:
- I resolve to not take the important call from my client while my daughter is mid-sentence. While I may consider your call more important than the Jonas Brothers’ latest CD release, she does not.
- I resolve to schedule time for my family with the same zeal that I schedule your listing appointment. And, much like I will not cancel your listing appointment for the last minute request to drive carpool to the movies, I will not cancel a planned trip to the mall for more of that cool lip gloss that “everyone is wearing” for your appointment. I am certain there is another time we could meet.
- I resolve to limit my workday. By this I mean, I will not be answering my cell phone at 6:00 AM (I received two calls from a seller before 6:30 AM yesterday morning) or at 8:00 PM (I receive those almost every night), and I will do a better job of communicating reasonable expectations of my availability when we first meet so that no one will be disappointed.
- I will take one day off a week, and I will respect it and request that you do the same. On this day, I may choose to hang with my kids, spend time with my husband, or blog, but it will be my choice.
- I will attempt one vacation a year where I am truly on vacation. No cell phone, no laptop, no fax machine, no exceptions. A vacation defined as “working from a remote location” does no one any favors.
Many of you will relate, while many others will not, already having achieved the balance I long for and busy enjoying your summers. To the enlightened bunch from the neighborhood, I will meet you under the big palm tree at noon (this is, after all, San Diego), and I’ll bring the Popsicles.
But, not tomorrow. I have a 10:00 appointment.