“Summer, Summer, Summertime” On Florida’s Suncoast
I am on the slow roll to a summertime vibe. I know the exact number of days that I have until freedom sets in. But more than that, I am aware of that restless feeling of wanting to be done with one thing so that another may begin.
When my husband gets on the kids about their lack of focus on their homework and the need to finish strong, I am with him in words and support, but in spirit I am one with the children. I am wishing spring and the confines it poses would be sprung so that summer and I can have a fling.
Of all of the seasons, summer has always posed the opportunity for the most fun. There is just so much appreciation felt on that last day of school. Even the most self-absorbed children will feel a moment of gratitude for freedom and life without teachers and homework. From a young age, we learn to hang on through the challenging patches because “summer will be here before we know it.” Then, foregoing overscheduling by your parents, that last bell rings and the good times may begin. For me that meant from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. while my parents were at work, I could eat Kraft mac and cheese and drink Pepsi to my stuffed delight followed by tromps through the woods or a swim in the lake, whichever I was into that day, then, back inside for the afternoon Soaps. I would make sure the house was cleaned for my parents because I wasn’t a totally horrible kid and plus, they expected it. Aah, the good life. Fast forward to today and those kind of parenting skills would get you shunned and possibly arrested.
What will you all be doing this summer? And, if you are working but the kids are off, which camps have you dedicated large portions of your paychecks to so that they don’t get stagnant whilst outside of your presence? I generally make a list of “must-dos” if I’m feeling particularly energized or a list of “to-dos’” if I feel like setting the bar a little lower. This year, I am working from a different angle and will be working off of a “Not Doing” list for the brief summer hours which begin sharply latter May and end sometime early August.
Kids are not sleeping in. Here’s why: I wake up early and run the dog, clean the house, write the articles, cook the food and prepare the beach bag so that when I wake them at 11 a.m. they are ready to go—Wrong! Sometimes, believe it or not, the children want to lay around another two to three hours before leaving the bed and/or house so now you are looking at a departure time of around 2:00 p.m. If you live in Florida, that is generally when the clouds roll in for a shower or storm. May as well stay home and watch tv, right? And that is why the kids are not sleeping in. Also, for some unforeseen and irrational reason a person has decided to build a home right next to ours. The construction has just begun, and these guys show up early ready to pound, hammer, dig, etc. so no late slumbering in this house.
Not going to diet. Last year, I spent the entire summer dieting. This year, I decided that feeling great in my shorts and dresses was enough incentive to start early. After a mostly- healthy diet and exercise regimen that began awhile back, I look forward to cute summer attire. Though I’ve always had body-image issues, like most of the planet, I decided long ago when the boys were young to give up feeling inadequate or not quite skinny enough for the beach, etc. As long as I was running and playing with them that was the goal and what a liberation that was for me! I would definitely go back and tell my 20-year-old self to quit feeling so self-conscious, don’t wait for motherhood to set you free. At this stage of life, I am comfortable with my physical appearance plus I don’t give a damn what people think, two very cool perks of aging.
Not over-indulging their need to stay busy. I must admit, I am all about being taxi-mom. Due to their school situation, their friends live about 40 minutes in any direction from us. Whereas Sarasota is the hub of all things cool, just ask me, North Port is not, so I overcompensate by driving them every weekend to a friend’s home or party. Do you know it’s possible to visit Sky Zone five times in three weeks even though you work full-time and the kids are in school? True story. You might think the fact they are in the best public school in Florida would be prize enough, but as it turns out they need friends. Well, guess what? Mom-Uber is having select hours this summer, not on-demand, and not every day. Also, they should really build a Sky Zone in North Port that would be so useful.
So, that’s it. The last thing on my summer “to not do” list is adding anything else. Life is complicated so when you have the opportunity to slow down, take it. As the dance to summer continues, I will try to remember that not planning anything and being open to everything is going to be really good for us.
Photos courtesy of Jodi Schwarzenbach.