Mostly, though, I think it’s that I know these seasons when my children will be unencumbered by summer jobs, and when they will still want to spend lots of time hanging out with each other and with me, are rapidly dwindling.
After the rush of end-of-school-year activities, it was nice last week to turn the page on the daytimer and see lots of open space. No games or sports practices (but plenty of time to play in the yard), no classes (but lots of room for imagining and dreaming up home science experiments), no concerts or homework or obligatory appointments.
There are a few items and deadlines penciled in here and there, but we have a week or two of mostly unscheduled time before jumping into summer plans, and I am hoping to be able to shape my work time around family and play time during these school-less weeks that seem always to fly right by.
The kids – in their youthful rush to grow up – may not know how fleeting these sweet days of childhood summer are, but they do know the season is short. They haven’t wasted a moment getting to the fun.
In the first week of summer vacation, they’ve shared a short hike to a semisecret place with friends, basked in the smoky glow of a backyard fire, paddled kayaks along a river, played with friends, and jumped into the rain-refreshed Ham Branch.
The kids have also taken to sleeping in – allowing me precious extra time in the early mornings – and wandering downstairs just in time to watch the day’s first World Cup soccer game. Meals happen when we are hungry, rather than when the clock suggests it’s time to eat. Bedtime has blurred beyond the point of distinction.
Next week we will again adopt some semblance of a daily family schedule, but on a summer scale. There will still be plenty of time for going with the flow, between our summer’s bigger plans: the annual trip to the Cape – this year with West Coast cousins who have never been there – an extended hiking trip with friends, and other plans that range from tackling a few more 4,000 footers and riding bikes through wooded trails to jumping into the river on hot afternoons and impromptu outings for ice cream.
Somewhere in between, I’ll have deadlines to meet and chores to tackle, but I’m striving for that sweet summer balance between meeting obligations and savoring these long days that pass so quickly.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying waking to the strong sunlight and raucous birdsong of summer’s early mornings, the colors of the garden (despite the weeds), the laughter (and, yes, sometimes squabbling) of my children playing in the yard and splashing in the water, fireflies and thunderstorms, and falling asleep to a chorus of frogs singing from the pond and barred owls calling to each other across the just-dark sky.
Ahh, summer, thank goodness you’re here.