He staples together pieces of maple leaves, dotting eyes and nose with black marker, and proudly hands me his creation: a fox head made of leaves. Another child is making a collection of mini robot-droids with Legos, while my daughter waters the thirsty flower pots on the back patio. The oldest is drawing cartoons. I’m sipping iced coffee with books and a chatty 5T-wearing three-year-old in my lap, willing time to stop. Maybe later we will escape the heat at our local pool, or hang out at Grandma’s house with cousins. A few weeks ago we went on an ocean vacation with my side of the family. Big planned events are always memorable, but for me, it’s the simple moments of unremarkable days that make up the essence of summertime. Certainly, there are endless sibling squabbles to referee, extra messes to clean, and dirty feet marks all over floors, no matter how recently mopped, but summer affords us the opportunity to slow down. Summer puts the brakes on our frantic coming and going, and illuminates the scenery that’s been whizzing past us throughout the school year.
As a homeschool mom, fall is looming, and at least part of my summer is consumed with school preparations. Against my natural tendency, I force myself to hold down the pause button just a little longer. Whether it’s an extravagant vacation or a simple backyard sprinkler, in all your happy doing, remember to savor.
This time with your children? It’s magic. Spellbinding for a short season only, and recalled only as clearly as the attention you give it in the present.
Every mom is different, but for me, appreciating this brief juncture looks like intentionally choosing to not fill up every day with activity. Boredom spawns the most brilliant creativity in children, and it’s exciting to see the personalities of my children emerge when they aren’t told exactly what they should be doing next. Sometimes I think we moms place unnecessary responsibility on ourselves to create all kinds of magical experiences for our kids to have the “perfect” childhood. The irony is that childhood is most magical with very little intervention. I’ve discovered that it doesn’t take an amusement park to amuse my kids. They need me to leave room in their lives. It is as simple as giving them a little time and space, and once they get past the craving for instant pleasure via cheap entertainment, they aren’t be bored for long! The unique bent of each child becomes more visible through our languid summer afternoons.
Summer for us also means lots of time outdoors. Stocking up on Vitamin D while actively playing with neighbor kids, throwing balls or pumping on swings – these are nature’s medicine, feeding both body and soul. In the first summer days, I’ve been known to set a timer after lunch and not allow them inside for two solid hours. Now, I rarely have to encourage outdoor time. They are out the door right after breakfast, ready for exploration and adventure in their own backyard.
Last week, the kids caught a tadpole in a local pond and we learned together how to create a temporary habitat so they could track and photograph its transformation into frog-hood. Each morning they run outside, anticipating the day his tail will be gone and ready to release back to his natural environment.
I’m not watching the frog. I’m watching their fascination, their avid minds, their bonding together over this shared experience, and treasuring this summer of childhood, anticipating the day they too will be fully grown and ready to release into the wild world.
Song Harri is a happy wife, mom and homemaker in the small town of Walla Walla, Washington. While she keeps very busy raising and teaching five children at home, she pursues a life of simplicity, laughter and loving Jesus.