Well, the day has come. My summer is over. Tomorrow I start the school year again. For the 14th time. Thankfully, I’m not dreading it too much, although I’ve spent the past 72 hours in semi-panic mode getting three different presentations ready for faculties I’m working with the first few days of school. In some ways, I crave the routine that working gives me.
Summertime means lazy days for us – not getting dressed until 10 AM, too much TV watching, sneaking little naps in the afternoon. We’re lax on bedtime, we eat almost every meal in the bonus room, the kids only do baths every 3 days or so, and my hair is in a ponytail every day (why bother to straighten it when there’s nowhere to go?).
Summertime also means umpteen trips to the playground, playdates with friends, board games, ball games at night, a dozen trips to the pool/lake, nature hikes, visits with the grandparents, and sports camps at school.
Summertime also means annoying each other, impatience, fights, and occasional yelling. When you stick 4 people with each other 24 hours a day for two months, you can’t avoid that.
I always get to the end of the summer and feel guilty for not doing enough. That message of scarcity, of “never enough” creeps up on me. I didn’t do enough with the kids. I didn’t take them to every place on their summer “to do” list. I didn’t read with them enough. I never made those sight word games for Ephraim. I never made Madeleine keep a reading journal like I’d planned. I didn’t write enough. I wasted too much time on the internet. The list goes on.
I’m not good without routine and structure. The kids really aren’t either. But I am learning to believe in the value of slowing down. We move so fast through our days that we can’t see the things that really matter through the blur of rushing.
In his book The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse, Michael Gungor says, “Take time to really attend to a meal, a good book, a piece of music, or a sunrise. The point is to be fully present, to not be swept up into the distraction of a thousand voices, but to learn how to simply and fully attend to one. Then, when one enters back into the noisy world that we live in, even the million colors together are more vibrant because you have learned to better see color in its essence. To truly see is to find hope.”
As much as I may struggle with the laziness that is summertime, I am beginning to trust that this is a time that we all need in order to re-imagine ourselves and our lives. Though I cringe over all the “not enoughs,” I cling to hope that these countless ordinary moments count in an extraordinary way, both in my life and in the life of my children and spouse.