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All Packed Up

I pack for sunny days, for windy days, for Wednesdays in July with a touch of rain

We’re finally here, and I’m taking deep, relaxing breaths because the dust has mostly settled and I’m now sipping an iced coffee, sort of calm and Zen-ish. I almost don’t recognize the person I’m writing about, namely, Me The Last Few Weeks While In A Frantic Frenzy.

Because it was that time of year again.

And by “that time of year,” I mean June.

In June, I pack. And if I’m not packing, then I’m thinking about the fact that I need to pack. Unlike some, I’m not packing my children up for a few weeks of sleepaway camp, and I’m not packing for an expertly planned and long-awaited trip during summer vacation.

In June I pack to get my family ready for our annual pilgrimage from the city of New York up to the mountains of New York.

While talking to friends and neighbors, I have come to realize that there are different types of packers:

Those who believe they must buy everything in the city, check it off their list, pack it up, and bring it to the country in a caravan-like situation, and those who pack up what they have handy, and if they need something while they’re up in the country, they’ll buy it then and there.

I am firmly entrenched in the former group. If the Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared,” then I guess you can say I’m a Mom Scout, which is very similar to being a Boy Scout except for the fact that we are prepared not only for our own potentially unexpected scenarios but also everyone else’s.

I have to admit though, that as proud as I am about being a Mom Scout, it’s not as foolproof as I’d like it to be. I pack for sunny days, for rainy days, for windy days, for days that start off warm and then get cooler, for Wednesdays in July that have only a touch of rain in the air — I pack for it all.

I pack the sneakers, the Crocs, the rain boots, and the cozy slippers. I pack Band-Aids and allergy medication, thermometers and sunscreen. You’d think I'd have it down to a science at this point and that with all this over-packing, I’d spend my time in the country basking in the knowledge that if anyone needs anything at all, I am able to provide it, thanks to my glorious foresightedness.

However, you would think wrong.

I recall one year spending a few weeks in June shopping and packing for my children, including a certain six-year-old who got to the country and decided there was no way he was wearing shorts at all that summer. At all.

Another year I packed what one would think were more than enough pairs of pants to last eight weeks, then had one child (bless his heart) literally rip two pairs of pants a week while participating in miscellaneous summer adventures that are best left unpublished.

Being a Mom Scout didn’t do a whole lot for me then.

Of course, each summer brings with it new experiences (courtesy of my children) that I could have never imagined or anticipated, and they then alter my future packing lists for years to come.

Much like Pesach cleaning or any other job that I’m dreading but I know must get done eventually, I tend to procrastinate the actual packing until the very last minute. Here are some handy tips for the readers out there who, like me, feel overwhelmed by monumental and unavoidable tasks:

First, I suggest you do as I do, which is to constantly walk around saying out loud, “I am so stressed out! There is so much to pack before we leave!” over and over again. It may not actually help you to get more packing done, but at least now everyone else knows how bad you are at stress management.

Another great move is to go shopping with accidentally incomplete lists. That way the proprietors of the local shops can get to know you better, and when you walk back into the sock store for the third time in as many days because you somehow forgot gray socks last time, it’s now like visiting a dear friend. A dear friend who looks at you somewhat confused when she sees you walk back in the door again, but whatever.

While in the packing phase, I’ve also always found it incredibly helpful to constantly think about and plan all the relaxing I’ll be doing once I finally finish packing, travel a few hours, and unpack. I imagine how all this packing and effort is worth it because I will soon be slowing down and taking the time to smell the roses just as soon as that last box is gone.

Never mind that historically life has had a way of being just as busy (if not busier) in the country as it is in the city, only with different scenery. And now that I think about it, the roses up here potentially have ticks, so I have to add daily obsessive checking of all my children for ticks to my new relaxing summer routine.

While I’m sure there are more tips that are worth listing, I’m afraid I can’t share any more at this moment. Not that I don’t want to — I truly do. It’s just that one child has already ripped the Velcro strap off his shoe so that it can no longer be worn, and another has lost his Crocs and needs a search team to relocate them, and besides, I almost don’t remember being that person who was me last week in such a packing panic.



(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 800)

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