It’s summer. I think this finally sank in today, because we had one of our atypical lazy days at home. We only seem to be able to enjoy those during the summer, and it so rarely happens that I don’t feel guilty about it. While we were lounging around and enjoying the weather, I started thinking about why this summer feels so different. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it’s because of my new adventure.
I don’t have to despise the height of the corn in the fields or the date on the calendar because this is the first summer that I can remember that isn’t dedicated to counting down and dreading the August flip. I can enjoy my children and our activities without thinking about how many more Saturdays we have until school starts and Saturdays are consumed by grocery shopping and cleaning and lesson planning and grading and getting as much done as possible so we can spend some quality time on Sunday without having the mad dash Sunday night to get everything ready. I didn’t hate the Fourth of July because the summer is just downhill from there. I’m loving everything about this summer, but there are some things that seem just a little sweeter, just a little better, just a little more summer than in years past.
- Sunscreen – There’s something about the smell of our boys’ sweat mixed with their sunscreen and their normal we’ve-been-outside-playing-today smell that makes me melt.
- Lemonade – If you’ve never squeezed your own lemonade before, you are missing out on something truly delightful. Ours tastes even better because our five year old has to be our taste tester and swish it around in his mouth a few times, deciding if we need just a little more sugar before it’s perfect.
- Strawberries – I don’t enjoy cooking as much as I probably should, but I could stand in the kitchen and clean and cut up strawberries forever. It’s not just because they’re fresh and smell so good. It’s because the little hands reach for them faster than I can prepare them. It’s also because the big kid and I have figured out how to make “special strawberries” with a hollowed-out center filled with sugar. It’s our special treat, once a day. Just us.
- Lightning bugs – We finally got a chance to go hunting tonight, and we had a blast. Once the little guy was asleep, we armed ourselves with our bug-spying eyes and bug-catching container and were amazed by how many lit up our yard. Three things stood out tonight: 1) my eyes aren’t what they used to be, 2) our five year old is faster than I realized, 3) we, who go on housefly hunts and swat with a vengeance, can be so gentle with lightning bugs. I wanted to freeze time when our big kid asked them if they were ready to be let go and then told them good night as he watched them fly away.
- Ice cream – We have the absolute best local ice cream shop a few minutes from our house, and there is no place we’d rather be on a hot night than in their long lines. Everybody shares and has to “have just a bite” of everyone else’s. I used to get worked up about melted ice cream on the car seats. Now I pack a roll of paper towels and let the boys do their own thing. It’s just a car. And some day they will be able to keep up with those incessant drips. I do not long for those days.
- Swimming – This is the first summer in five years that I don’t feel like I have to be a lifeguard on duty 24/7 at the pool. The big kid is swimming without any flotation devices, and the little kid is in his Puddle Jumper as happy as can be. I am back on the diving board and flipping into the water having the time of my life and loving the looks on the boys’ faces because they didn’t know their Mom could do those things. I don’t get to be the hero often, so I’ll take it when I can.
- Fireworks – We have backyard fireworks shows nearly every weekend, all summer long because we can’t say no when our big kid sees those brightly-colored pyrotechnic packs at the store. We secretly love the flashes and bangs as much as he does. The smell of that acrid smoke is a summer staple.
- Later bedtimes – We don’t do much to mess up our bedtime routine, but gradually later bedtimes are a natural part of summer. We play outside longer and harder, and it’s hard to justify bringing in those dirty, sweaty boys who are having such a good time without any technological devices or TV in front of them.
- Porch sitting – When we were planning our house, I knew there would be no compromising on the porches. A front porch with plenty of room for rocking chairs and a screened-in back porch with a porch swing were early parts of the dream home plan. I never dreamt that the boys would love to be on the porches as much as I do, and it’s so much easier to convince the little guy that we are, in fact, outside on rainy days when we’re on the porch playing. Summer nights on the back porch are my favorite way to wind down and relax with my husband, while looking at the stars and watching the lightning bugs fly, this time without worrying about being caught.
So, I’m finally able to enjoy a summer. A whole summer. I don’t know what day it is, and I’m fine with that. What the Hell?
(Connect with me @baileyshawley or share this post on Facebook so your friends can see what you’ve been reading.)