Today is Ava's last day of school which means that summer begins tomorrow for us. I already wrote about my mixed feelings on this topic, but I seem to have moved past that now to anticipation for no alarm clocks, backpacks or regular routines and lots of unstructured leisure time.
When I think back to how tightly wound I used to be, driving myself mercilessly forward every minute of every day, I experience profound gratitude at my new ability to relax. Resting was closely tied to value for me, so when I came to understand that I was valuable even if I wasn't performing at top speed, I could afford to rest. And that permission to slow down saved my sanity, if not my entire life.
Now I can approach summer with a more balanced set of expectations. I know that I will not be as productive as I am during the school year and I can make peace with that fact. Creating memories with my kids is also important, as I'll never have this exact summer with them at these ages again.
Sleeping in and having a nap on a hot summer afternoon does not mean I'm lazy. It's a way to recharge my energy for the fall. A break is not a new way of functioning all the time. I want to enjoy the summer, not endure it, panicking that I'm losing my ambitious edge and drive. I'm tired of feeling afraid and want to change my perspective.
Unstructured time used to freak me out and now I can welcome it for the gift it is. Walking to the splash park for a picnic with friends or seeing an impromptu weekday matinee movie are the kind of treats that summer was made for, and I want to soak them all up and make them into something worth remembering.
The key is to be present all of the time, not resentful that I can't achieve more. I'm seeking balance. A leisurely morning coffee while reading a book, then a game or two of Battleship, then a little writing while the kids watch a movie or play outside with friends. I'm hoping for compromise; a reasonable mix of rest, fun and work.
My attitude is critical. I want to offer my kids permission to be lazy and to have fun without making everything about productivity. I know that I have a better chance of doing that for them now that I can model it myself. We all burn out if we don't build in leisure time.
I wish everyone a summer full of great memories and rest, balanced with bursts of solid work time. May we be present and fully engaged in every activity we are involved in, and when it's different from our regular life, it serves to refresh and revitalize us for the challenges ahead.