When life's a zoo, it makes a trip to the zoo worth fighting for

When life's a zoo, it makes a trip to the zoo worth fighting for
"Mommy Summer Camp": the antidote to pacing crazily back and forth in your cage

Last Friday was the first (and only) day of what we like to call “Mommy Summer Camp,” when the kids and I go off to do something fun. Granted, it’s hard with three teenagers to come up with something we can all agree upon as “fun,” but I was astonished at how hard I had to fight to get our one day.

And the fighting has nothing to do with arguing with teenagers. In fact, quite the opposite. We all wanted to do something together, but like most Chicago summers, this one is going by way too quickly and before we knew it, it was the second week in August and we hadn’t made time for anything fun. No beach. No museums. No concerts. No zoo. Our days had been filled with work (me) and then appointments (doctors and dentists and orthodontists—them) and summer camps and lessons and social gatherings (we don’t call them “play-dates” anymore.) When I saw a Thursday on the calendar with only two obligations I knew it was ripe. I rescheduled a phone conference and home maintenance visit and we were free!

We decided on the Shedd (haven’t seen the Jellies) and on the big day, the children filled with excitement, woke up at the crack of noon and we were off. Unfortunately, it was also the day of the Bears big exhibition game. The Adler lot was already shut down at 1:20. And I was not going to park in the Soldier Field lot for $49! What now? The Lincoln Park Zoo.

Forgoing our usual ritual of arriving at a Mommy Summer Camp venue and heading immediately for the cafeteria (Did I mention I have three teenagers?) we went to see a few animals first. Good call, because during this heat and drought-fraught summer we made it to the zoo on the only cool and wet day in recent memory. When the rain really did start coming down, we succumbed and grabbed a bite, but unfortunately the only place to eat was outside. We huddled under a drippy umbrella with our Chicago Dogs, a tenacious wasp and “Loaded Tater Tots,” which are a testament to American ingenuity and by that I mean, the possibility that someone’s really, really bad idea could see the light of day.

One of my favorite parts about living in the city is we don’t feel compelled to stay and stay and stay at a museum or zoo or Navy Pier or wherever when we all feel we’ve had enough. It’s only fifteen minutes away, is our logic. We can always come back another day! And Friday, after about two soggy hours at the zoo, we’d had enough.

In spite of all the setbacks, we had a GREAT day. A day worth fighting for. Mommy Summer Camp may be easy enough to get to; it’s the fight to carve out the time that’s the challenge. As I look ahead on the August calendar, I have my sights on a certain Tuesday. So if you’re at the Shedd (or the beach or Navy Pier) and you see a blond mom with three teenagers, who desperately needs to get her roots done, just know that’s a battle she’s rescheduled for another day.


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