Maybe Means Probably Not
The kids get out of school in two hours. Out for the entire summer. Twelve weeks of long days and a calendar open much wider than it is during the school year.
Can you tell I’m sort of panicking?
I work from home for the most part, and my load doesn’t get lighter when theirs does. I’ve signed them up for a few weeks of camp, but I also want them to figure out how to keep happy and occupied—without going crazy myself (and also without putting holes in the walls, setting the house on fire, painting the dog, or breaking each other’s heads).
The plan is to not have much of a plan. And we’ll see how that works. I know they couldn’t be happier. As they raced down the sidewalk this morning toward school, I remembered the feeling I used to get on the first day of summer break.
It felt as if everything heavy had flown off my shoulders and I was carrying the sun inside my chest. If you installed a window there, the view would blind you.
I don’t get that feeling so much anymore, but I know it when I see it. This morning, Lucy—who gets extra crazy when she’s happy—clocked Alice on the head on the way to school. Just as I started to remind Lucy that she needed to be a little more careful with her body, she shushed me.
“It’s the last day of school, Mom. I don’t want anything to ruin it.”
So I ended my lecture, ruffled Lucy’s mess of brown curls, and watched her skip along in her scuffed dress shoes and too-small uniform sweater. She was right. Nothing should ruin this feeling. (And Alice can more than take care of herself.)
So when I pick the kids up later this morning after the graduation ceremony ends, we’re going out for donuts and a trip to the park.
We’re going to make a fancy dinner tonight and watch a movie together.
And tomorrow morning, the kids can sleep as late as they want—and they won’t have to put on their uniforms.
I want this school’s-out feeling to last as long as it can for my kids. There’s nothing better in life than knowing you’ve done what you needed to, you’ve learned what you could, and it’s your time to celebrate.
So really, the question is, how do you get the feeling back when you’re a grown up and there is no single day of the year when all your burdens fly away? Because I want that feeling, too. I miss it.
When you’re used to looking at days and figuring out how much you can cram in to them—how much work, how much house-cleaning and grocery shopping, how many trips to the dentist and the car-repair shop and wherever else you’re needed—you lose sight of how important it is to stop every once in awhile and savor the goodness of life itself.
And it is important. It’s so important.
Our kids aren’t the only ones who learned stuff this year. We did, too. We’ve earned the chance to look back on it and let it rise up, up and away on a current of warm summer air, even if we don’t get diplomas and parties.
Kids are masters at this letting go. I do believe I have forgotten how. But this summer, I’ll let them teach me. And you know what? I’m feeling lighter already.
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