My preferred style of summering resembles that of a 1970’s mom.
I wasn’t alive in the 1970’s, so I can’t say for certain, but I hear summers were pretty laid back. I was born in 1981. Summers, when I was little, were made up of a wide-open span of time where I could swim in the pool, pluck kumquats from our tree, play dress up, and then dump a bunch of plants and leaves in a bowl, mix it with pool water and make “soups” for my drive through window, which was just me on my big wheel, making circles around our outdoor table.
When I got older, I would fill summertime with trips to the mall, beach, and movies. If I had nothing to do, and it was hot outside, I’d watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island and The Beverly Hillbillies until it was cool enough to ride my bike around the neighborhood with the kids who lived in my apartment building and wait for the chime of bells that signaled the ice cream man was walking by. I never remember it being a big deal that I wasn’t involved in sports or camps. I was just happy not to have to go to school.
In fact, do you know how many activities I partook in during my entire twelve year summer vacation career? Exactly one. I did a summer theater program for a couple years, where I acted in reproductions of Cats, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, and Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (which was awesome, even though what I really wanted to do was Guys and Dolls).
Back to my present-day mom life: Up until this point, when I did nothing but stay home with my kids and had no regular hobbies outside of the home, it was easy to have 1970’s-style summers. We would take each day as it came, with nothing on the calendar, and do anything we wanted, when we wanted. If we were not doing anything, I’d tell my kids to go outside and find something to do. Make some lemonade, throw some water balloons, or listen to a book on tape, I don’t know. Just, for the love, don’t come and tell me you’re bored.
However, this summer, one thing has changed, and that one thing has thrown a wrench into all my summer non-plans. Do you know what that one thing is?
I’m serious. Working out takes up a lot of time if you are serious about it. Roughly one to two hours four to five days per week. And I’m serious about it, you see. It’s a long, complicated story as to why, but suffice it to say, I’ve got this theme in my life about needing to get in shape physically, emotionally, and spiritually for whatever is next. I’ve been doing pretty well developing the emotional and spiritual muscles the past few years – but, actual muscles, not so much. Physical in-shaped-ness was the weakest link.
It’s a word.
I write what I want.
In order to accommodate my five-day-per-week fitness schedule, it meant that I would either need to find babysitters everyday, or enroll the littlest ones in camps and programs, and then try and do the rest of my workouts at night. I chose the latter to start, which the kids are very pleased about.
It’s not just that I covet “me time” or am some fitness junkie. Quite the opposite. This working out is a serious spiritual discipline I’ve committed to. I need to feel capable of sticking with such a program over a long period of time so that I can fulfill my life’s very purpose.
You know, no big deal.
Basically, I’ll feel like my life is on pause until I do this. And I’m not willing to waste any more time with my life on pause. I’m already 35 years old. It’s full steam ahead for me.
So goodbye simple summer. I have to leave you in the dust this year. Instead of spending all the dog days outside in a chair, book in one hand and a fat watermelon slice in the other, watching my kids run through the sprinklers (though I will find some time for that, I’m sure), I will instead be breathing hard, lifting weights, hiking mountains, sprinting in intervals, and who knows what other horrible heart pounding things. I will be getting strong. I will be becoming capable. I will be pressing “play.”
I may not greet the next school year slow and relaxed, but there is something about making myself work hard in a physical way, which is calling to me, that I bet will feel like the opposite of hard work in my spirit. I bet I do greet the school year slow and relaxed, actually. It just won’t be because I sat around in a chair.
Maybe there is more than one road that leads to Rome after all?
Happy summer to all of you, how ever you do it.