beach scene

Every year, I approach spring break with a mixture of guilt and dread.

The pangs of guilt come from knowing I’m not taking my kids on some fabulous trip to a ski or beach resort, as are many parents of kids in their classes. More guilt piles up because I tend to work, or at least attempt to, during spring break. As a freelancer I rarely take vacation; it’s hard to say no to clients. Another barrier to traveling during spring break is the absence of my husband, who coaches high school baseball and heads to South Carolina during the break for some mega baseball tournament. That leaves at home me, my son and my daughter, whose ideas of a perfect vacation are worlds apart.

Watching Orioles spring training sounds like heaven to my son, hell to my daughter. Sitting on the beach and collecting sea shells is my daughter’s idea of the perfect day; a complete bore to my son. What they have in common? Teasing and tormenting one another.

So, stuck in Baltimore, I wish for—at the very least—spring-like weather, even though it’s not yet officially spring. Today, the wind is gusting up to 50 miles an hour, making it feel below freezing. Great. My son doesn’t even want to go outside and shoot hoops it’s so cold. So he takes out his energy on his sister. They nudge each other and bicker and chase and kick. I try yelling. Tuning out seems to work better. But I can’t ignore them completely. More guilt.

Earlier in the week, I took them to the Maryland Science Center and we watched To the Arctic, the most moving IMAX movie I have seen to date. I was close to tears watching a fiercely protective mother polar bear interact with her two cubs in a manner I dare call “loving.”  It took me back to when my kids were sweet innocent bundles of love, and I couldn’t ever imagine raising my voice at them. It’s good to look back sometimes. If you’re a mom who needs a reason to remember those days, this flick is for you.

Looking for a way to expend some of my kids’ energy while staying warm, we also took a trip to Earth Treks, the indoor climbing gym in Timonium. The kids have been there a number of times for birthday parties and such; I’ve gawked at the climbers but never donned the harness until this week. I let the two of them go first; they scrambled up and back like they were skipping up and down a flight of steps in our house. Then it was my turn.

I’m scared of heights, which didn’t work in my favor. I thought I was fairly strong, but I found my arms shaking as I tried to reach the final rungs that would bring me to the top of the wall. In my panicked state, it didn’t help to hear the giggles of my kids below. “We should have brought the iPod. This would have made a hilarious video,” one of my kids said to the other. Finally, they were getting along. Ganging up on mom is fun.

Later that afternoon, as the wind continued to howl outside, I relented, allowing my kids to watch whatever trash was on TV because I needed to kick back for a few minutes. I stole a glance into my living room and noticed something I hadn’t before because I’m usually rushing past that room mid-day rather than gazing at it.

The sun was streaming through the bay window and poring directly onto the couch below it. Without hesitating, I sunk into the warm, micro-suede fabric, threw a pillow over my head, and fell into a dreamy sleep. When I woke up the sun was beating on me, just the way it hits you when you’re in a chaise lounge on the beach in the late afternoon. Ahh, spring break in Baltimore.