Summer is here. We've been on summer vacation for a week now. I could not be happier.
I love having my children home, and I love having the weather beautiful and us all outside. I love the sudden liberty of being able to stay in our pajamas or cross the street to the river or eat from the gigantic glass jar of Whoppers that Aoife won at a birthday party (for guessing the right amount, 220) at 9 in the morning if we feel like it. Yesterday Aoife and I went to the grocery store and bought a package of Bubble Yum bubble gum so I could teach her how to blow bubbles. That's how good it feels right now. Organic lettuce from our farm share, beef from our neighbors, the chickens roaming in the backyard, and some good, old fashioned Bubble Yum, which may or may not have been on the shelf of the grocery store since the 1980's (which was the last time I chewed Bubble Yum). Sometimes you just have to wow your kids with the power of YES.
I love this so much, yet to me, vacations feel to me like springtime in New England: I love this freedom and this ability to live life on a whim because I am scheduled the rest of the time. I can remember the end of last summer feeling grateful for the clock and the ritual of getting up, getting dressed, sharing breakfast, and heading off past the green fields and winding river to our sweet little school every morning. During the school year I love hearing the stories the children share with me, and knowing that they are independently developing themselves in a place that is only theirs. I am incredibly grateful and lucky to be able to have them in a school where they can operate as independent learners, where they are met at their own level, where they investigate and explore and laugh and run around and sing together every single day. I love the privilege of their school life, but I also love the privilege of this. Of being here, together, with absolutely NOTHING to do.
Today, Greg joined us on summer vacation. He's done for the summer. It was a hot, hot day. We gathered the troops, threw bathing suits into a bag, peanut butter, jelly, bread, and watermelon into a cooler, and headed up the hill. There is a beautiful lakeside park, nestled in the hills among tall pines, with hiking trails, campsites, and a busy, bustling beach. We arrived early and staked out prime real estate by the waters edge, where a little creek runs out of the lake. Maeve and Fiona puttered around in the shallow water, the big kids swam and laughed and met friends and explored the creek, and we were all just happy together. We tried not to worry about who wasn't napping when, and when everyone had completed their trip to the cooler and their dunks in the lake and we were feeling hot and fried we moseyed back down the hill to home, where the little girls snoozed away the afternoon and the rest of us quietly escaped the hot sun.
This has been a challenging year. It's why I had to stop writing completely. There are moms who say they have no time. Most of them actually do have time. This year I actually didn't. The combination of the most extreme sleep deprivation I've ever met with and two very busy little girls who have to be watched like hawks at all times and never, not ever, not once nap at the same time, left me so breathless I had to carve everything except taking care of the children and family out of my life (and that's not really even factoring in the other two children, who are lovely and well behaved and who I'm desperate to gift some of my time). It was hard, but I knew it would be short lived. And now that summer has arrived, and Greg is home, and I am determined to nap the girls together come September, I feel a lifting of sorts. I can breathe now, and think about maybe working on a photo album, and posting on the blog, and pulling a few weeds with one hand while I shovel dirt out of Maeve's mouth with the other hand.