Type A Summer Vacay or How I’m Not Effortless


There are thirteen more days of school left for K, and the ginormous maw of summer has been inching toward me, begging me to feed it with worthy activities.

I started a little late on the summer camp sign-up process this year, and here in Seattle, it’s like a competitive sport to get access to the various “enrichment” programs. Most of the popular ones are filled by early April, and you have to be aggressively Type A to have your ducks in a row so that you’re not stuck with the most expensive or least appealing camps (e.g. “Nooooooo, not Math camp, Mommy!!”). In actuality, I’m a step down from the traditional Type A personality — more of a Type A minus — so I’m missing a few ducks at this juncture.

At first I thought that I would be uncharacteristically mellow and just let summer unfold organically with no structure or scheduled activities. But that’s not me. I’m just not the loosey goosey sort, as much as I’d love to be. I remember how — as part of a college graduation present — I went to Europe with two of my friends, and I beleaguered them with my incessant need to have a specific itinerary every step of the way. Maybe this makes me unfun and unspontaneous, but despite a few blunders, my OCD travel agent skills often saved the day throughout our month-long summer excursion.


I’ve always been told I look busy, even when I’m not doing anything. This came in handy when I had a corporate job in which I actually had days when I had nothing to do. People assumed from my…what? knitted brows? intense gaze at the computer? that I was frenetically working on something at all times.

And that might be true. My mind churns ceaselessly: imagining, worrying, planning, remembering, designing…in short, I never look relaxed or effortless.

I’ve been thinking about how so much of the internet makes everything seem so effortless. Things like: Oh, I just decoupaged this twenty-foot tall wardrobe with my hand-printed wallpaper in a couple of hours.Β Or: Do you like my lustrous, frizz-less hair and casually tossed-on outfit that looks like a spread from Elle Magazine? I woke up like this.Β It’s not just that everything looks perfect, but the subtext is that it’s also easy.

I know I’ve mentioned similar thoughts before, but I’ve been wondering if this emphasis on easy peasy perfection is especially problematic for the younger generation, namely my own child. She looks at me as though I’m a fascinating alien when I mention researching for reports in libraries when I was little; at the age of almost 8, she knows full well how to Google. Don’t get me wrong — I love technology and all it can do when done right. But in this instant gratification society we live in, effortful is uncool, undesirable. Expectations of creating your own start-up and becoming a trillionaire before you’re 21 seem to be on the rise these days. While partying it up. I’ve read how “millenials” are getting a lot of flak for the seemingly entitled mentality they’ve formed, but what of the even younger generation? I can’t remember where I heard/read it, but when children were recently surveyed with the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, a startling number said, “Famous.” Maybe it’s not directly correlated to effortlessness, but I find this disconcerting.

I guess it’s not a new concept, this whole don’t-let-them-see-you-sweat notion Β — who wants to be associated with the image of a schvitzing, grunting, unglamorous worker bee? Or worker pig might be a more appropriate visual, no offense to the porky. I’m definitely a worker sow, I think.


Anyway. I have more thought on this, but I’m roaming around all over the place with this post, and it’s time to focus my Type A minus personality and finish scheduling our summer to death.

20 thoughts on “Type A Summer Vacay or How I’m Not Effortless

  1. I understand how you feel. I was born in the year of the pig and I think they have the most wonderful qualities. I completely agree with the entire post.

      1. I’m born in the year of the pig too, but I’m definitely one of the “lie in the mud and enjoy life” type I guess…if you’re a “type A -“, I must be more of a “type C”. Yikes! Laid back and easy going. haha. I LOVE your pig at the desk/sewing machine…that would be a cute print for the wall, for all of us Year of the Pig sewists/internet-procrastinators.

  2. haha i feel the same way – i don’t feel like i make things look easy (i’m the mom showing up for school pickup who clearly hasn’t showered and may or may not have baby spitup all over my shoulder) but i’m type A enough to want the kids to have some activities planned for the summer. i missed the boat last year but this year signed Em up for two camps and O for one (they’ll go to one of them together). now…swim lessons…gotta get those on the schedule!

    anyway, when i was little my mom made a big long list of fun summer activities and we sort of planned them out by week (try a new playground, children’s museum, go to the library, etc.) so maybe you could make a list and then you and K could pick a couple things to do through the week together? could be fun. πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, I love that idea of having a long list at the ready, Kristin! I’ve fulfilled my overachiever-y ways, and I have K signed up in quite a few activities, with friends no less πŸ˜‰ And I beg to differ on your ability to make things look easy — at least on the blog front! But I don’t think you portray anything in an unrealistic way, which is something I come across online from time to time.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this, Sanae. I recently had a conversation with a friend about kids wanting to be famous. Jude had mentioned that he was going to be a professional baseball player when he grew up. I had just listened to a podcast about how we’re doing our kids a disservice by telling them they can be anything they want to be, because it’s simply untrue and can contribute to entitlement attitudes. So I told Jude (and my other kids who were in car) that it’s good to have high goals for ourselves, but if anyone tells you you can be anything you want to be, that’s just not true. And they laughed and laughed. I told them in a tongue-and-cheek kind of way. I told Jude he probably had a better chance of being President of the United States than a pro ball player (he’s not even on a team, nor does he practice often). It was all very light and we were laughing a lot, but an empty nester called me a dream crusher, saying that he’s only 9 1/2 and he’d learn that on his own. Anyway, I talked to a friend about it who said she would have focused on the being famous part – that it’s great to play a sport to make friends, get exercise and have fun – but we don’t have to be famous for it to be worthwhile. It was just an interesting conversation.

    1. Wise friend! I’m originally from Los Angeles a stone’s throw from Hollywood, where fame is a highly sought after commodity, as you can imagine and I really developed a distaste for that kind of attention-seeking pursuit (says the woman with a blog; at the risk of sounding defensive, the reason I started the blog was to be accountable and to connect with like-minded folks). I don’t agree that you were being a dream crusher and I do think it’s important to be realistic with kids. Growing up, my mom told me I could be anything I wanted but my dad often told me not to expect things to go my way so I got a pretty balanced set of messages and I’m grateful for that because in a weird way, I believe both.

      1. I really enjoyed reading your comment, Sanae. Regarding blogging, like you, I don’t think just because one blogs means that she is seeking fame. I think it just depends on how and why you do it. There is so much self-promotion in the blog world, and I get very tired of that. “Like me on FB!” “Share this link.” etc But you don’t do that at all. I completely agree with you that it’s great for both accountability and making connections. Blogs were a huge part of our adoption journey – both our decision to adopt and then our decision to land on the side of adoption-prevention/keeping first families together whenever possible/desired. It has dramatically influenced my sewing. Had I been left in the world of big box patterns only, I probably would have given up. It’s also influenced my mothering. I, for a long while, felt like I wasn’t contributing to society/couldn’t be fulfilled personally as ‘only’ a mother. And that caused a lot of identity issues/angst for me, as my husband’s job is extremely demanding and my desire to get a PhD from a Tier 1 research school was not possible in our currently city. Blogging was an impetus in our decision to homeschool. In fact, a huge part of our decision to homeschool, as well as the curricula we chose, was influenced by another sewing/homeschooling mom. So I am so grateful for role blogging has played in my life. And I’m grateful you choose to blog too! πŸ™‚ <3

        1. Blogging literally changed my life! From the first time I laid eyes on a blog (Loobylu, circa 2007) to now, with these fabulous blogs like yours, I feel like there’s just a mind-boggling amount of creativity and camaraderie out on the interwebs if you look for it. I keep hearing these nasty rumors that blogs are dying, and I sure hope that’s not the case. πŸ™‚

          And I’m so glad I don’t come across as self-promoting. I think about that sometimes when I do blog tours. I participate in them because I genuinely support and celebrate indie designers and I am happy to promote others that I believe in, but I have a hard time promoting myself. If this blog were a legitimate business, I suppose it would be something I’d have to do, but I’ve never asked anyone to follow me and would feel weird doing so.

          Anyway, thank you as always for your thoughtful comments, Rachel!

    2. I don’t think you’re a dream crusher, either! My husband laughs at me sometimes because I’m such a “work hard” broken record, but I really am concerned about my kids growing up to think that good things will just happen for them without effort. My 5 yr old has been more and more frequently telling people how “great” he is at things that, frankly, he isn’t. We had a really nice conversation about how there are going to be a lot of things that he tries and he’s “good” at, but no one can be truly “great” at something without hard work and practice. Since then he was reading out loud to me and I told him he was a great reader and he was so proud, acknowledging how much he had been working and practicing.

      1. How fantastic that you’re helping your son make the connection between skills development and hard work, Amy! I’m constantly drilling that into K too, but I’m not sure how much of it is getting through…Thank you!

  4. First off, love the fun watercolor pictures – esp. the working sow!

    I have this conversation with my husband so often . . . the fear/worry that I am raising entitled kids and how to avoid it. It is a little bit of an obsession with me. I was raised in a immigrant (Dutch) family that truly had to struggle to make ends meet, and an entitled attitude was never even on the horizon. Now I’m raising my kids in a more affluent environment from mine, and wonder continually which is better. And your anecdote about using Google versus going to the library made me smile – a familiar refrain around here too:)
    Best of luck with scheduling K’s summer – I tend to go pretty light . . . one camp or so per kid. Sleeping in is always a favorite summer activity too:)

    1. You and me both, Lucinda. I come from extremely humble beginnings and K is growing up with a totally different set of standards. I’ve been agonizing over this barrage of sewing I do for her because though it’s fabulous practice for me on the one hand, I’m potentially creating a fashionista monster. Ultimately, I think intention plays a big role, and how I conduct myself and how aligned it is with what I tell her is what matters, no?

      Sleeping in is the BEST. Must make sure to schedule that πŸ˜‰

  5. My 5 and 6 year old can already run rings around me in some areas of technology. We spend a lot of time in this house reinforcing the idea that you have to work, and work hard, for the things in life that you want. I feel like a broken record, but I so want them to have a proper work ethic, whatever path they take in life. I do believe that seeing Daddy going out to work every day and Mummy actually making things from scratch, whether food, clothes or home decor is a good way to underscore this message. And the fact that we have to save to buy things we want and need. I hope the lessons sink in.
    As for the holidays, last summer I prepared a different activity for every day, covering rainy days and sunny ones, and used about 5 of them. We just kicked back and played in the park and the garden. Bliss. But only so because I knew I had a fall-back plan. Otherwise I’d have been frantic.
    Good luck with your summer. And that last illustration is just fabulous! I love it!

    1. Such a fantastic ethic to instill, Evie! I especially love the idea of making sure kids are aware of saving up to buy. We’ve been flirting with a weekly allowance these days and K’s been shocked that she actually has to fork over “her” money when she wants to buy something.

      The back-up list is a must! I’m going to make one for sure. And glad you like the illustration — one of my faves to date! πŸ™‚

  6. Good post, Sanae, reminds me of my son’s response when I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.
    Keep in mind he had just recently turned 5, a milestone he had been feverishly looking forward to reaching..which was almost a year ago, oy vey!
    “What do you want to be when you grow up, Z?” I asked as we were finishing our supper.
    “Ten.” ,he replied.

    1. Oh, I love that Aja! Your son is too cute! K has also expressed the desire to hurry up and grow up, but then she’ll turn around and say “I want to stay little forever…” πŸ™‚

  7. Lord, hopefully there’s a special place in society for us people who seem to make everything look hard. hahaha.

    Your pig is amazing.

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