I’m one of those moms who like summer. I can’t help it. It’s always been my favorite. From the time I was a child, summer held the promise of hot days of swimming and playing, and late nights at barbeques or riding bikes until the sun finally set. I love a season that breaks the monotony of the school year by celebrating dirty feet and ice cream for lunch.
As a teen, summer meant long days at the local pool, where I did millions of laps under the watchful eye of my swim team coach, and where I worked as a lifeguard. Evenings were spent looking for the generic kind of trouble found in small, rural towns short on entertainment options and long on time. We’d drive around, without cellphones or purpose, the way kids no longer have to do to meet up with friends. If we were determined, we’d find a way to get our hands on some sort of adult beverage, and meet our 30-70 closest friends in some unsuspecting farmer’s orchard or field. Someone would blare an eclectic mix of rap and country music from their Ford Ranger, and if we were really committed to a good time, we’d cobble together a bonfire.
As a childless adult, I looked forward to days on the river, and late nights of hanging with friends long after the sun finally set. Sure, many of us had work the next day, but productive mornings had to take a backseat to the siren song of perfect summer nights.
As a mom, I still look forward to summer. Less structure, plenty of time outside, and beach play dates mark our days, only interrupted by camping trips and a long vacation to Grandma’s house. The frantic lunch packing is shelved until fall, and sensible “school appropriate” footwear is traded for flip flops and bare feet.
I understand why some parents dread summer. Many working parents have to arrange childcare, and some stay-at-home parents have become accustomed to a mostly quiet house during the day, quickly tiring of the loudness that comes with a house full of summer vacationing children. Maybe I will be one of those parents by August, but right now, I’m thrilled that both of my kids will be home all day.
My six-year-old daughter has a year of kindergarten under her belt, and her brother is ready to tackle 3rd grade. Before that, though, we have work to do. The lazy work of summer, days on the beach and hours in the pool. Our beach towels and sand toys are in the car, not to be put away until fall, and there will be many sandwiches eaten on a towel, the grit of sand making its way into every bite, while countless rocks wait to be thrown into the sea.
We will hang out in our front yard, which will be strewn with soccer balls, water toys, and various other tools necessary for summer as a kid. My children will stand impatiently as I slather sunscreen on their squirming bodies. I will listen carefully for the ice cream truck that will most certainly be rolling up the street, because as soon as I hear the melody of frozen treats heading our way, I’ll attempt to usher those kids of mine into the house and away from temptation.
We will be fighting bugs for months, and at night we’ll sweat in our non-air conditioned house, but the kids will get to stay up late, and there will be s’mores, and despite my best efforts, ice cream from a truck. I will eventually look at the calendar, longingly gazing at September, but for now, I’m smiling. My season is here!