Two weeks. That's it. Summer is over in two weeks. I find myself reflecting on the last three months, what they've brought for us, what we've done, how it's been.
In many ways this summer did not go at all as I expected. For one, Paul was away more than either of us planned (we originally thought he would have the summer off completely but it turns out he had quite a bit of work to do on his graduate research project, as well as many days spent in the lab). Neither of us accomplished nearly as much as we hoped on our various home projects (do we ever?). We didn't do as many picnics or camping trips or hiking excursions as we wanted. The weather was strange (very wet and much cooler than other summers), which made the gardening and foraging (for berries) not as productive as we'd hoped, and we didn't find time for canning, jam-making, putting food by (although there is still time for some of that).
In many ways, however, our summer has been quite nice. Small ways. Non-spectacular, everyday kind of ways. It's a bit hard to explain. We didn't do much, and that was good.
Throughout the summer I would run into other moms, other families we know, and they would talk all of the goings on around town: library program, vacation bible school, summer bible camp, mother's morning out, t-ball, etc. "Oh, your girls would love it," they'd tell me. And I would reply that it sounds lovely but that we decided to not do organized activities this summer, that we've chosen to spend our time together as a family instead. Without much structure. Nearly every time I said this (including today, to our minister, when he asked how our summer has been), I have been greeted with either blank stares of incomprehension or "Are you nuts?" looks.
Still, it's true. We chose to spend the last three months, with a few carefully selected exceptions, together as a family doing, well, not much. Unstructured, unplanned time. We did this deliberately for a few reasons. Mainly because this fall is to be a difficult one of change and busyness and complexity for us. I will write a whole post on my anxieties about fall, but it all has to do with increased work/school time/responsibilities for Paul, Owen entering kindergarten, a new nanny situation for Barrett, my mom not being here anymore, my taking a class, and the logistics of all of that. I figured that with all of those changes coming, maybe we should sort of hunker down and huddle up and spend all the time we can this summer charging up our emotional and familial batteries.
I mean we did some stuff. A family wedding, visits with friends, trips to the creek, the playground, the library, the river, family night at the town pool, Owen's week of art camp, a month of Wonderful Wednesdays at the church, a month of weekly music classes, swim classes all this week and next. We played on the porch, went for walks, crafted things from paper, played dress-up, danced, ate ice cream and popsicles, read stories, read books, baked (a whole post on its own), fished with Grandpa, went to the Flea Market, visited the Farmer's Market, painted, played in the sprinkler, played in the sink, watched DVDs (yes), had Sunday lunches with Grandma and Grandpa, played tea party, had birthday parties for stuffed animals, had friends over for dinner, rode tricycles and bicycles, caught fireflies, picked flowers, fed the birds, cleaned house, made mud pies, slid down Grandpa's dirt bank, did lots of laundry, built forts with the living room cushions, made jewelry, argued, made messes, cleaned them up, got new beds, started sleeping in our own beds, created zoos, talked, talked, talked, learned new words, learned new skills, wrote, did puzzles, made up games, drew pictures, took pictures, gardened, grilled out, cooked together, ate together, pitched fits, yelled, made up, kissed, hugged, talked.
Laughed, cried, played, lived. Together. As a family.
So maybe we didn't take a vacation. Maybe we didn't do a whole lot by most people's standards. Maybe it wasn't what we ourselves had planned, or expected, or hoped for. But it's been a pretty good summer after all.