The sounds of summer are becoming a faint echo as days shorten and leaves change colours. Shouts of joy at the pool, the sound of the diving board as bodies are flung forward, the screech of bike brakes in the driveway. They are being replaced by the echoes of voices in the hallways of school, the squeak of shoes on shiny floors as feet adjust to being encased once again. The sound of books banging together in a knapsack.
Summer is over according to the calendar. The lunches have been packed. A small fortune spent on shoes (both indoor and outdoor). Backpacks are bulging. The countdown to school has been on for days here at the Willcock house. As pointed out by my boys, the night before school is almost as hard as Christmas Eve. I agree.
As the summer came to a close, I thought about how it went. Summer is always hard for me. It’s not just the weather. I usually come away feeling like a complete failure. This year has a decidedly different flavour. We changed a few things up. I threw out the schedule. I kept the boys busier than I have in the past. It was a better summer.
As I thought about the summer, these things stood out for me. Nothing new really but lessons I needed to be reminded of again.
1. Saying Yes is a good thing. I’ve asked myself repeatedly, how do I want my kids to remember me when they are grown? As moms, we fall into the habit of saying no because we have lots to do. We say no to doing, going, being, because we’re too busy. This summer I said yes more often. Yes, to participating in life rather than just observing or hearing about it second hand. It may have been baby steps but I feel like we made progress. I am not where I was two months ago. Saying yes makes me feel better about myself as a person and a mom. I have good memories of family times that in years past I would have said no to because I was too afraid to go. How do you want your kids to remember you when they are grown?
2. Play is important. Part of saying yes is giving yourself permission to play too. With the kids. On your own. Hard to do! We’ve cut out so much of play in our lives that you have to be intentional about it. Kids are naturals if we don’t stomp it out of them. I’m the one who gets in the way. I let worries and fear take over. I want to hover. Loosening the leash in appropriate settings this summer was good for all of us. It gave me time to indulge my reading addiction. How did you play this summer? If you didn’t why not?
3. Rest works. I threw out the schedule I had rigidly tried to stick to over past summers but the one thing I did keep around was a quiet time. We didn’t do it every day but we did it a lot. It gave all of us space from one another. It gave us rest from the computer. It gave us time to quiet our souls and soothe frayed feathers. The week away at the cottage was extremely restful. I think it was the weather. It was cold. I didn’t mind. Whatever the reason, there was an atmosphere of rest and peace. It was extremely invigorating. How did you rest this summer?
4. Challenging yourself is good for you. My boys are brave. Much more courageous than I was at their age or even now. One went to overnight camp for the first time on his own. The other went to a basketball day camp. He wanted to go but still experiences much anxiety in new situations. Both overcame their fears and the challenges in front of them and enjoyed these new experiences. I see them test themselves on a daily basis. My oldest checks whether he can swim one length of the pool underwater each time he goes swimming. He also had to swim fourteen laps for swimming lessons! Do we challenge ourselves with new experiences and daily tests? I’m not sure I do. I am good at avoiding new things. When I do try new things, I feel good. I feel smart. I feel satisfied. Why then do we always try to go for easy rather than good?
5. I am still a student myself. As my boys learn so do I. Sometimes I teach them things but mostly I learn from them and others. You are never too old learn and change.
6. There but for the grace of God, go I. Amen.
As it rains today why not take a few moments and ask yourself, What did you learn this summer?
*All photos are personal photos of mine. Please contact me if you wish to use.