Before I had children I adored the 4th of July. In fact, as a kid it was probably one of my favorite holidays. Who wouldn’t love swimming in a pool all afternoon, eating butter drenched corn on the cob, staying up long past bedtime and watching a thrilling display of fireworks?
As a teenager my boyfriend, (now husband), and I arrived hours before the fireworks show. We picked out the perfect spot for our flannel blanket and waited for the sparks to fly.
The Fourth of July After Kids
Unfortunately, the magic of the 4th of July ended the year after my oldest son was born. That year I decided not to drag my nine month baby out of the house, (well past his bedtime), just to watch those bright lights in the sky. Rather than watching the fireworks we sat home and listened to them pop in the sky. Boo.
The next year we returned to the fireworks show, but sat farther away from the polytechnics. We wanted the ability to evacuate easily in case the baby began to fuss. The result: a much less prominent view of the fireworks. By the way there was no reason to sit farther away, he loved every minute of watching those bright lights.
Things weren’t as great as they had been in our early days, but they weren’t awful either. Year two was rather forgettable, but beginning in year three things began to take a turn for the worse.
The Neighborhood Parade
To begin this story I must admit that my husband and I don’t love to wake up early. Okay, that’s putting it mildly. We both really hate waking up on days where no one needs to go to school or work. So getting up in the morning and rushing out the door for the neighborhood Fourth of July parade was not exactly at the top of our “favorite things to do” list.
Still we wanted our son to be a part of the community and experience the excitement of Independence Day, so we hiked up the long road to the beginning of the parade with our three year old in tow.
The Worst Parts
Now we live in Maryland and almost every Fourth of July is incredibly hot and humid. So here we are huffing up a rather large hill as quickly as possible, dripping with sweat and cursing quietly under our breath. We are cursing because we are running so late that we might miss the start of the parade.
Well, when I say we might miss the start, I really mean we’ll miss the whole thing. Because, start to finish this whole parade runs for less than a minute or two.
So now we are booking up a very large hill, panicked that our son will miss this parade, because we were too tired and comfy to hop out of bed on a day off to stand at the top of a hill, in humid weather to watch our kid ride his bike for less than a minute.
It Gets Even Worse
Somehow we magically arrive on time, but the hill is crowded, our son doesn’t want to decorate his bike, it’s hot, he looks overwhelmed and did I mention we are sweating bullets.
When the parade is over we are ushered over to a picnic area where we wait in an incredibly long line for food. Can you guess what happens next? By the time we get to the front of the line the food has run out.
What can we do but sit in the grass without food while flies bite us. All the while our son contemplates his decision not to decorate his bike. And by contemplate I mean almost break down in tears about it.
Oh yes, the joys of the 4th of July. Every year since my son turned three our holiday has been an up and down mess of this sort. So this year I said, “no more!”
Switching Things Up
This year we will not be waking up early, rushing to the neighborhood parade, standing in our sweat drenched clothes and waiting for flies to nibble on us.
We’ve tried to make this whole hot, humid parade work for four years now and I’m finally giving up.
Instead I’m starting a new tradition this Fourth of July. This year we are staying at a hotel where we can wake up slowly and lounge by the pool. When night falls we’ll search for a comfy spot to watch the fireworks close up.
Wish me luck. I feel like I’m going to need it!