I found a folded list this morning in the kitchen drawer, one I had drafted when the days were still dewy and we had to wrap in blankets for breakfast on the front step. The list is doubled sided and populated with a variety of classes and gyms and little leagues. It has columns that include camps: nature, bible, sports and otherwise, complete with dates and dollar signs.
This list represents the beginning an exciting, enriched summer.
Today it is a muggy ninety-five degrees at nine a.m. and my littles are huddled in a bed sheet fort, snacking on their “adventure food”: cheerios from a tin mug and whole cherry-red apples. We are five weeks into summer I have yet to sign up for a single camp, class or gym. The list has remained untouched as the days have marched by.
Our days instead have been simple, uncluttered, open-ended. Our days have been wonderful.
Yet sometimes there is unexpected panic that rises hot, a fear of doing it wrong, selfishly, backwards. What if they don’t learn to do a backflip or swim a lap or score a goal this summer? Are they getting too old? Am I holding them back? Will they be behind, deficient, failing? Mostly: am I behind, deficient, failing?
And then I look up, I watch as they order rocks from largest to smallest across the cement, as they draw chalk roads and navigate their scooters through their new driveway city, I listen as they discuss rocket ships and galaxies and the full, bright moon we saw last night. They see me watching and ask, “mom, can we hunt for fireflies again tonight?”
I exhale. They will be okay.
So, this one’s for you mamas who haven’t visited a strawberry patch or slid down a slide that isn’t in your own neighborhood park, who haven’t braved a public pool or hosted a lemonade stand or driven to a gigantic zoo, the kind with lions and cotton candy. This one is for you, mama, who won’t be dropping your kiddos at camps all across town or volunteering at vacation bible school.
This is our summer of simple.
I blame this turn towards simplicity on a few things, but mostly I blame it on my desire to hold back the stream of time, to work with all my mama muscle to strain it through my fingers as it passes quickly, to break the flow just a bit, to hold parts of it in my fist and look more closely at the shades of it, the feel of it, the hot and cold of it, as it passes instead of letting it rush without a notice.
This is my rebellion.
There’s plenty we won’t be doing this summer, plenty to feel worried or guilty about, plenty to feel free from. But today, I have a new list: unfolded and stained with a raised ring from my jar of lemon water and tattered on one edge (hello, new pup). A list of what we will be doing instead.
We will be nursing a basil and mint plant with sun and water, our go-to for cool bruschetta and charred pizzas on the grill, available raw for midday snacking to our toddler’s delight.
We will be visiting the library two books at a time, being sure to greet the mammoth goldfish and to keep careful track of whose turn it is to press the elevator button.
We will be spending Thursdays with Grammy, with lunch by the frog pond and afternoons wrapped together on the couch, cheeks flush with sun.
I will let Scout out at 5:00 AM with a steaming mug of coffee, savoring the few moments alone, watching the sunrise fade to day, soon joined by a blonde bed head wanting to be held close, wanting to trace his fingers across my face. These early minutes feel like a gift, a secret, time stolen before the whole world wakes.
This summer we will be making blueberry crisp, letting it take twice the time as the four-year old measures and stirs, scooping it warm into our friend’s bowls, heaping the vanilla bean ice cream on top as we spend an evening together: five pairs of toes in the air, giggling in the hammock.
We will be spending this summer learning to apologize with our eyes looking straight into another’s, our words saying “that probably made you feel sad” and “will you forgive me?”
We will be spending our summer telling each other our highs and lows as we eat dinner together every single night and most likely outside.
Most days I will be bare-faced and baseball capped. Most morning there will be hot breakfast: eggs for them and hash with broccoli and red peppers and plenty of hot sauce for me. Jars of water for all, to be finished before we leave the table (I’m nothing if not a water dictator).
Most days we will walk our subdivision streets, stopping at our little library and exchanging old books for different old ones, hunting for frogs or earthworms or at least avoiding the cracks–they are lava, you know. Some days we will trek the giant hill to the coffee shop and congratulate ourselves on nearly six miles logged with a cup of fruit and an icy americano and then find the stamina to make it home, strollers and scooters and screaming glutes and all.
We will be spending our summer on our knees before bed, thanking God for three things–and most often these things include each other. After the thanking, we ask God for help with one thing as well. Most times it is that we learn to listen better. These are the things I am grateful for (each other) and need help with (listening) too.
We will be spending the summer turning errands into adventures, each with a grocery list in hand, adding their items proudly to the cart as we go, taking ownership over each stalk of celery, each bag of avocados, each carton of eggs.
We will learn to do more yoga and more often, and I will learn to tolerate the story-based children’s yoga with ear buds drowning the silliness with worship. This might just be my favorite.
This will be a summer of taking as many lake trips as possible, realizing we are best when we are there. Not distracted, not pulled, just there: with the water and the trees and the world of summer. The lake is where my son learned about the magic of gathering around a pile of logs and embers and now says every day, “mom, it looks like a good night to take a fire”
We will learn that there are only three summer essentials: bikes, hammocks, hoses. It really is the little things and I’m so grateful to these three littles for reminding me of just that, all over again.
Here’s to our summer of simple.
Here’s to our rebellion.
And now, I have to go: there are ligtning bugs to be caught and it looks like a good night to take a fire.