As I rushed back to my car, checking the time to see how late I would be getting to the office, I looked around and noticed the other moms. They were strolling to their cars in their yoga pants and talking to one another about plans to go work out and meet later at the pool later for play dates. I let out a frustrated breath as I pulled out of the parking lot, not for the gym or the pool, but for work.
Visions of long, lazy days with my son – reading, swimming and eating watermelon on the porch – danced in my head. These are the things I remember from the happy summers of my childhood. That’s what I want to give my son.
SAHMs, please understand I realize I am romanticizing the heck out of your summer. I know it isn’t all days by the pool and happy, laughing children. I know you are busy trying to keep your brood occupied and entertained and fed while keeping your head above water. But know that as you are breaking up fights and wishing for a moment of peace for the love of all that is holy, there are moms who work outside of the home who are envious of the fact that you are present for those sun-soaked memories your children are making.
My son is spending the summer with his (awesome) babysitter all day, except for Fridays when his dad’s work schedule allows them to enjoy the day together. I get great photos of them at the pool and at the movies. I cherish every one and am glad they are having such a wonderful time, but I also feel twinges of jealousy with each photo.
I’ve decided I can spend my summer complaining about it. Or, I can remember what makes summer a wonderful respite, even if I am in the office Monday through Friday.
THE DAYS ARE LONG
And that means there are at least two hours of daylight when I get home from the office. That makes it the perfect time for a game of water balloon baseball or swinging in the backyard.
THERE ARE FEWER ACTIVITIES
During the school year, activities take up so much of our time that we arrive home already close to bed time and rush to finish up homework, pack a lunch, take a bath and get to bed. If I really have my stuff together, I can heat up something for supper that I made over the weekend but, honestly, Chick-Fil-A substitutes for homemade meals on many of those nights.
I enjoy cooking but forget that I enjoy it since it’s typically a rushed activity. Summertime means I have more time to prepare something tasty for my family.
WE CAN READ FOR THE PURE JOY OF IT
AR points and vocabulary quizzes mean that reading during school always has a goal attached to it. I am an avid reader and always have been, but my little one doesn’t enjoy it quite like I do.
This summer, I want to give him the opportunity to pick out the books that appeal to him without setting any sort of goal or grade or pressure. I want him to read for the pure joy of it. I want him to realize he can step through a closet full of mothballs and old coats into a snowy forest in Narnia or sail through the clouds on a ship bound for Neverland.
MY SON AND HUSBAND GET BONDING TIME
At the end of July, my husband’s schedule goes from busy to, “Hey! I remember you!” when we pass one another in the kitchen. That pace doesn’t let up until sometime in November. Summer allows my two guys to have time to do things together, just the two of them.
That bonding time is valuable and, while it makes the beginning of football season a hard adjustment, I am so grateful the slightly slower summer schedule allows them to be together. Even if I do get jealous for not being there for it all.
WE GET EXTRA SNUGGLES
Bedtime is existent in our house during school breaks, but it’s pretty loosely interpreted, too. A little extra time snuggling over a good movie or one extra story doesn’t mean he will be falling asleep instead of learning fractions. And who couldn’t use extra snuggle time? It feeds the soul.
We are making the most of the time we get.
WORKING AN 8 to 5 IS A REALITY FOR ME
It can be rewarding and it can be frustrating, but it’s something I will do until at least after my son’s college graduation unless I become the next J.K. Rowling. (All I have to do it write books at least as good as Harry Potter, get millions of people to buy them, have a studio buy the movie rights and have an entire theme park based around my books that sell endless merchandise. So … should be any minute now!)
MISSING MOMENTS WITH MY SON IS A REALITY FOR ME, TOO.
That means I have to do everything in my power to make sure I am wholly present for the moments I have, the good and the bad. None of it is perfect, but all of it is life. I plan to spend the next few weeks squeezing every wonderful, lazy moment I can out of the summer.
We will swing and chase each other with water balloons. We will stay up too late and tell stories. We will eat sno cones and makes messes and make every single moment count.