Many years ago when my kids were young elementary-aged babies, I’d sit down with them at the beginning of each summer and create a poster where we listed all the things we wanted to do before school began again. There were always things like swimming and going to see friends, buy some sky lanterns to release the night before we all went back to school and lots of trips for ice cream cones. We piled in tons of trips to the library, days at local parks, play dates with friends and nearly always a church camp or event with the youth group.
We also did a lot of reading in the summers. When the kids were really young, we took advantage of the Whitehouse Community Library’s summer reading program. They loved the challenge of filling up score cards with check marks for books read and earning ‘library bucks’ to be used at the prize auction in August. But the kids eventually outgrew that program and had read nearly every book available at the library, so we started our own version at home! I’d create a big chart to hang on the kitchen wall where they predicted a goal number of books to read and would get a sticker for each one they finished. If they all met their goals, we’d do something special at the end of the summer – a day trip somewhere fun, hours at Chuck E. Cheese, going skating or something they all agreed would be fun.
But these last few years, we’ve moved beyond those things. With two children now over eighteen and one entering her senior year of high school, our summers are filled with different kinds of activities now. Not everyone lives at home anymore, and the ones who do are so busy that they’re barely at the house most days. In a way, I am glad we are past those years of staying so crazy-busy all summer that we’re exhausted when school time arrives. Those years always left me wondering what people were talking about when they spoke of their restful summer breaks. But on the other hand, I look back at those busy summers and miss them a bit.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my days of being able to sleep late and the ability to stay up until the wee hours reading a book if I want to. I love my peaceful bubble baths and driving through Braum’s for a cone that I don’t have to share. Besides, now days my kids can drive themselves to Dairy Queen when they want ice cream. But I miss seeing the Slip ‘N Slide spread out across the front yard. I miss snow cone cups left in the van and muddy flip-flops on the porch. I miss running and giggling with little ones trying to get wet when the sprinkler watered the yard. I miss painting tiny toes fun colors and wondering what kind of critter my son would bring into the house to show me.
Taking a break from work these summer months is indeed a treat. It’s a blessing to have a job that allows me this time off to be home to enjoy some peace and quiet, to re-fuel and rest, and to spend time with my family full-time. The house is quieter these days and I’m trying to remember to treasure this season, too. Moms of young ones, take heart. There will come a day when the chaos decreases and you feel human again. Your summers will not always be packed with sibling fights and T-ball games. Enjoy the season you’re living now. Each passing season brings new jewels to enjoy.