We all like to wax poetic about time. Parents do this even more than non-parents. “Oh how the time flies.” “It seems like yesterday when she was two.” “Where is my baby going?” “The days are long but the years are short.”
What I’m learning this summer is that time is not only the one thing we do not have enough of, but it is also the biggest gift that we can give to ourselves. In the average North American life, we are rushing from the moment we wake up until the moment we finally fall asleep, especially with children. Hurry up, wake up, get ready for school, we’re going to be late! Hurry up, get in the car, we have to go run these errands. Mommy can’t play with you right now, I have to get ready for work or I’ll be late. Hurry up, get back in the car, it’s time to go home, I need to clean the house. Hurry up and get your pajamas on, it’s getting late and we have to get to sleep before it gets too late because we have to get up early tomorrow. Etc and on and on.
Summer has been different. The main difference is that on my days off M doesn’t go to school. She doesn’t have to be anywhere by 8:30am. I love her teachers and the community and friends she has there. I love the fun things they do there and all of the memorable experiences she has… but I’m not entirely convinced that it’s worth the hassle that trickles through to the rest of our lives. Even when I do work, she goes to the daycare room and doesn’t have to be there at any particular time. Usually she gets there around 9 or 9:30, according to my mom. She can sleep as long as her body needs to sleep, and therefore I don’t feel like we need to go to bed at a particular time. We go to sleep when we’re tired.
In summer the sky is bright until 10pm. This means that often at 9pm we are still swimming in the still-warm lake water. At 9:30pm we are often out in the grass catching fireflies. At 10pm we are reading books together or having a ticklefest to get out the last of our energy. We wake up when we wake up. We don’t have to rush to get dressed, and so there’s no pressure behind it. Most of the time I just throw a light summer dress or romper on her, and she’s off. We keep a pair of shoes in the car.
Sometimes we go swimming. Sometimes I make dinner and sometimes we just forage in the fridge. We watch the garden grow, we build bonfires, we take walks, and sometimes we sit in the air conditioning on tablets. It’s totally fine because there’s no set of rules or schedules dictating our time. It’s not like I have to say no to screen time because there is plenty of time to do everything, including screens.
Our only scheduled, must get-to activity is swimming lessons. M has a huge smile on her face the entire time she’s in the pool. You’ve never seen such a happy kid at a lesson. She’s now met the goal of her current swim level (swim 5 feet independently and go underwater frequently and comfortably). She dives under for rings and is working on flipping from front swimming to back floating in one move. She jumps in from the edge and swims back to the edge, and gets out without a ladder or step. She is awesome.
On Sunday we’re off on a camping trip with my sister. I’m looking forward to watching M and my niece run free and unencumbered through nature from my place at the bonfire. Summer is good. Life should always be this good.
I was afraid that the fun days of summer would make me less motivated to leave this all for a travel lifestyle. It’s been the opposite… why should we slog through the winter, the drudgery of school/work/house arrest, when we could live like this always?