I used to hate summer. I was a Summer Scrooge.
I only lightly concealed my loathing of the heat and humidity. I never wanted to be outside. I harbored resentments – for my fair skin that burns like bacon, blue eyes not meant for bright sunlight, and tender feet that just won’t tolerate hot cement, sand, or even flip-flops. Strange, you think? It’s true. The thought of something stuck between my toes all day long makes me cringe.
But my feelings were a prison of my own making.
It’s amazing how years can go by before you realize that you’re missing out on whole seasons of your life because of the way you look at them.
I’ve learned – the words that ring in my head and my heart frame my perspective.
So, 7 years ago, I decided to make summer different. It happened like this….
I had a friend who seemed to treat every day like an adventure, even if she never left her home. One weekday afternoon, I was sitting in her bright yellow kitchen while she cooked, eating olives from a ornate blue and white bowl that was part of a set.
“I love these bowls,” I told her, which matched a platter covered in cheese, crackers, and cured Italian meats.
“Thanks! They’re from Portugal. We got them when Tim* was stationed in Rome.”
Five of the six kids we had between us were yelling and charging happily all over her house, occasionally running through to snatch a slice of provolone or salami.
“And you’re using them today?”
“Why not?” she laughed. “What good are they doing in the cupboard? I use them all the time!”
“What if they get broken?”
“Well, then they do,” and she tossed her long hair as if to say, ‘But we really used them, didn’t we?’
That small exchange made an impression on me. Yes, other people had told me, “Use the good china,” but until that moment – I guess I hadn’t heard the message: Live today.
Even as a stay-at-home mom doing the usual thing on a random Tuesday – Live today.
And I decided to make a summer plan.
In the beginning, my summer plan entailed my own physical happiness. I found a non-sticky sunscreen and decided I was worth the expense, shunned capris and shorts and settled on the fact that skirts were more comfortable for me in the heat, and discovered that playing in the pool with my kids actually is more fun than sitting on the side watching them.
But by leaping those physical hurdles, I also found strength to focus on my deeper, emotional hurdles. Like how to use the summer months to draw closer to my children emotionally, when holding them at arms’ length would be easier for me. I’m an introvert with currently very extroverted children, and all this ‘togetherness’ can be challenging.
But the summer is time we will never get back. So I’ve learned to pray and ask for discernment from God about how to spend these days well.
I don’t always get the answers I want. As one would expect, there is less time for me and my pursuits, and in the short-term that can be frustrating. (i.e. I’ll be blessed if I can write one blog piece a week from now thru August!)
But because of my willingness to bend to Him, He is helping me to make the very most of now, learn from the past, and have fewer regrets later. It’s a hard thing to admit that I’m a better mom to my third six-year old than I was to my first child when he was six, but good parenting is about continuing to grow, and I so desperately want to be good – for them. I am being formed into the woman I was intended to be and the Creator is creating the best summers of my life.
This coming week, we’ll be on vacation, and I intend to spend equal time on the beach reading and building sandcastles. But I leave you with some recent words from my youngest son.
He and I were driving to the gym in silence when he blurted this out. I scrambled to get it down as soon as I could. I was in awe of what I’d heard, knowing I had to preserve it forever. He said,
“Every day is special.
Because God is always with us.
And every day is a birthday.
And a new baby is born.
And a new house is built.
And a car is fixed.
And flowers are planted.
And gardens grow.”
Every day is special.
*Not his real name.