“What I’m about to say is kind of awkward, but if I ever need a hearing aid I want this one,” said my nine-year-old son, pointing to a newspaper ad on the counter. Displaying the exact reason that summer break is so freakin’ great.
The end of the school year usually makes me excited for more time with my kids. More time for the whatever, whenever of summer. But this year I was nervous. I was used to our schedule. It was too crazy, but it gave structure to our days and left little room for the unknown, which I kind of like. And I was used to Lily, who is the most “spunky” of my children, being gone for long stretches of the day. It’s sad but true that for the last few months of school she was waking up grumpy, going to bed grumpy, and in a pretty bad mood the moment she walked out of her classroom. In short, all the time she spent in my presence. So I wasn’t excited about more spunk, let’s say, in my day. The whatever whenever of summer loomed like a black hole before me, ready to devour our understandable schedule with it’s nothingness. But here we are, a week in, and I’m remembering why it’s so wonderful. And so very needed.
If I added up the times I say “Come on! Let’s go!” to my kids on a given day, I would be A. horrified and B. about even with every other mother with young children. It’s more common than “What did I just say?” and “Who ate cereal in the living room?” Those little people are slow-moving, get distracted easily, and I never give us enough lead time. Bad combination. The rush of the school year is a plague, and we are infected. Get up, ready for school, ballet, piano, language club, pottery class, homework, dinner, hurry-up-and-get-in-bed-there’s-school-tomorrow. “Come on, let’s go. Let’s GO!”
Poor Lily. Maybe that explains her grouchy rants. Maybe she needs summer just as much, or more, than I do. I hang on to our schedule for some sort of security, being a planner and a what-are-the-parameters-I’m-working-with-here kind of person, but it serves me well to add a little whatever whenever to my life. To be surrounded by it. To see what happens and what sort of fun we can create. And Lily feeds off my calmer attitude. Can breathe a bit. Dig for snails at 9:00 AM, color with sidewalk chalk, do a puzzle, dress up in princess clothes, start a craft involving cotton balls, glue and glitter. None of which involves needing to be anywhere at a certain time. And all of which allow her to be dirty, creative, and six years old. I can already see her physically sighing with relief.
Now instead of seeing a black hole before me I’m seeing opportunity. To explore, and relax, and be together without a rigid framework. Don’t get me wrong. Planner that I am, there are camps scheduled, trips arranged, craft ideas researched and supplies purchased. I have to keep my sanity. But there is also room for surprise. Weeks with nothing on the docket. Time to go to the pool and make messes and stay up late if we feel like it. To read random ads lying on the counter without anyone telling you to hurry up and get your shoes on. There will be days of grouchy “I’m bored”s, when we all would love some time apart. But I understand what a gift this is – a summer with my kids. Working moms would love a couple months with nowhere to be. No matter if chaos ensues it will be our chaos together, and I won’t have that much longer. My love for a schedule can wait. Should wait. For all our sakes.
So welcome, awesome summertime. I thought I didn’t want to see you around this year, but I was a fool. I like you. I need you. I’m so thankful you exist. Your whatever whenever is just in time.