Ah, summer…. Every year we look forward to it, with visions of relaxation dancing in our heads. Those lazy, hazy days of summer – lounging on a beach, or sitting in a rocking chair on the porch sipping tea, or just laying in the grass watching the puffy white clouds go by…such lovely images.
But the reality of a Real Woman’s summer is neither lazy nor relaxing. It is more like a race to pack 50 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound bag as quickly as possible.
Here in New England, summers are pretty short. So we feel compelled to make the very most of them while they last. And in the blink of an eye, every weekend gets jammed with activities, every weekday is packed with getting things done and preparing for the weekends, and if a vacation or big event is in the plans – well, that’s when we slip into turbo drive.
Of course, we are our own worst enemies. It really doesn’t have to be this way. If we were smart, we could plan several days off to do nothing but lay around and watch the grass grow. But no, that doesn’t seem right. We have projects to complete around the house, we have special activities to plan with the family, we have kids to transport back and forth to camps, and we have trips and adventures to experience. We have to DO…. All the time.
Ironically, we get so busy “doing” summer that we stop participating in some of the simple things that keep us the most sane and bring us the most pleasure. We get too busy to connect with friends, or we skip our workouts, or we let our magazines stack up, or we forget how to snuggle in and watch a movie, or we let that rocking chair on the front porch gather dust….all those coping mechanisms we use in the colder, darker months get dropped because we are “too busy” doing other things.
As a classic R.W., I packed far too much into the first half of our summer. I didn’t mean to. Really, I didn’t. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even realize how busy we were – because I was too busy to notice. Then a few nights ago, as we were nearing the end of the month, over dinner I mentioned to my husband and son that I wanted us all to think about anything else we wanted to “do” during the month of August. Was there any place else they wanted to go, any other activities they wanted to experience? They both wearily looked at me and asked “can we just stay home?”
It was like someone put a stop sign up in front of my face. Here I was worried that we hadn’t “done” enough. After all, we really hadn’t planned a big vacation this summer… instead we had been busy with weekend activities, a few short road trips and family visits. And the first half of the summer had flown by. What the men in my life were trying to tell me is “it is time to slow down and relax now while we still can.”
We are lucky enough to have a pool in our backyard. Yet we’ve spent very little time enjoying it so far. My son and I have yet to pick up our tennis rackets to go try to get the ball over the net a few times and laugh a lot trying. We haven’t done a fun casual family bike ride together. We haven’t gone to a drive-in movie, or even laid around in our living room cooling off after a hot day and watching an old classic on tv. We haven’t all just hung out on the front porch, sipping lemonade and watching the world go by.
And so it is time. Time to stop rushing, time to stop doing. In these last weeks before school starts and we start heading into the next season, it is time to lay back and watch those puffy clouds, to finally relax. I thought I’d be sad that my family doesn’t want to go somewhere or accomplish something else. But instead I feel a sense of relief, and eager anticipation. Because we are about to start doing something truly special together: nothing.
You give it a try too. We can compare notes later.