I used to love the Fall: the reddening of the leaves, the crisp air, the blue bird skies but now it’s the summer that tugs at my heart. I love the slow-down, the indulgence, and the warm weather but more than anything I love the break from routine. Most people look at me like I am clueless, an amateur, when I say that my kids take a break from all organized activity in the summer and yes, that includes camp.
It’s a conscious choice- a more mindful one. Before we became parents we would dream about our future family. We never discussed what to name our babies (that could explain why we found it so stressful), how cute they’d be (given!), or what we thought about attachment parenting, but we did talk about the big picture. And by big picture, I mean huge. What sort of foundation would we lay? What are the most important values we want to instil? What memories of our own childhood do we hope to transfer to our own children?
A seed that grew from those early conversations was meaningful together time. Admittedly, in the early years of parenting survival was key, and escaping for alone time topped my list of priorities. Now, just like everyone said that it would, things have changed again – in what seems a blink of an eye.
No more diapers or strollers or sleepless nights. No naps or a constant stream of illnesses.
We’ve crossed a bridge and I find myself on the other side, somewhat weary, a little bruised; simply amazed we made it through. Now it’s time to put into action our plan for our family.
There are downsides to being a stay-at-home mom but there are a lot of incredible perks too. It’s taken a long time for me not to feel guilty about enjoying them.
And so this summer, I did just that. I made a dream become a reality. I crossed off two weeks this summer, packed-up the boys and rented a house far, far, away from our everyday life.
These two weeks have been void of anything overly familiar (except whining and bickering), very limited screen time, and heavy on the family time. What I have learned is without the constraints or pressures of our lives, our family unit grows stronger. We challenge each other to try new things and spend time really talking and listening. Most of all we each feel more vulnerable without the trappings of home and we only have each other to lean on.
I see my boys’ personalities developing. I see their strengths and admit to myself their weaknesses. I see them become more pack-like: defensive and protective while playfully mauling each other like lion cubs.
I have slowed down and allowed myself to indulge their curiosities. How do seashells get their colouring? Where does sea-glass come from? Why do some fish swim in schools while others glide along the reef independently?
I hope to increase the time we spend on summer retreat over the years to the full two months. I may be unrealistic. It may be a harebrained plan.
But I have made it across one bridge and I see another on the horizon and experience has taught me that objects are closer than they appear.
Wow, this was great! I hope that if I have a family someday I can have these same experiences. Great advice, and great reflections. Thank you!
Thanks for the kind words!
I cherish every moment of the 4 short weeks of vacation time my current job allows each year…it is definitely fleeting. Glad you had a great trip!
It is fleeting – heartbreakingly so.
As a working Mom, I find this even harder to achieve, yet it’s so important to us as well. Last year I spent one week out of the summer with just both of my kids, doing field trips each day. It was time to spend together and learn together, and all winter long they both kept asking if I was going to take the week off again this summer and spend it with them. Somehow in that moment I felt like maybe I am doing things right (because most of the time I have no clue!). But I’m so glad it means something to them because it means a lot to me as well.
I think you’ve nailed it – it’s not the amount of time it’s the quality (some truth to the cliche). I think (actually I know) our relationships with others grow stronger and more meaningful when we commit ourselves – and not just go through the motions or continuously check our smart