Fluff, Writing

There’s No Present Like Time: Summer Hours

This morning I woke up to the imagined MEEP of my alarm clock at the usual preposterous hour of  5:15 am. I stretched, groaned, and then I remembered…

Ahhhh…it’s summer!

There were no lunches to make, or papers to sign. No groggy kids to warn, “The bus is coming. Let’s go!” Everyone was sleeping, and I could have been, too.

Still, I trudged downstairs, inspired to pound out some words as long as I was awake. In fact, I thought, the whole day should be spent writing if I’m to catch up on this article, and that blog post, and these revisions…

Then I looked at the kitchen table, and saw their hopeful pages.

Every June, my kids compile their “Summer Wish Lists.” For the most part, they’re realistic — no longer including things like, Take a trip around the world, or Get a Dog (which is totally not happening). Instead, they’re sprinkled with simple events and polite requests: See a baseball game, Host a family BBQ, Stay up late to look at the stars.

However, no matter the good intentions, there are always wishes left unfulfilled. The 12 weeks or less allotted to us each year speed by more quickly than we imagine. We blink, and it’s the Fourth of July. We blink again, and we’re battling crowds, hunting for black leather school shoes and the right kind of erasable pens.

But during the first week of vacation, those golden days of summer seem like they’ll never end. The magic of Summer Break slops molasses on the soles of a society too busy to stop and take a breath.

Even when I wasn’t teaching and didn’t have school schedules as a reminder, the change of season was obvious — and not just because the temperature can go from zero to ninety before you’ve had a chance to put away your snow boots. Life is more relaxed. People seem happier. You stay up a little later. Out a little longer. Excuses for extended tomfoolery begin with a grin and a shrug, and end with a, “Well, it’s summer!

And that’s my excuse for making my own Wish List. It’s always the same, with only one item to check off with a nice pointy “X.”

Slow down, and enjoy.

Though I love having the kids home, this single wish is not always easy to manage. Not during the hours when I’m trying to make a deadline, and their eyes beg me to take them to the pool. Or the times when a new idea has to wait. And wait. And wait. Or on the days when words rub raw, and it’s clear that everyone could use some extended time alone.

I’m thankful, though, for the opportunity to give it my best shot. Time is marching on, and (almost inexplicably) my kids are getting older. The fact that most days everyone is content to spend time together is pretty amazing. That clock is ticking. And loudly.

So I put my work aside for the moment, read over their lists again, and think, What can we do together today? Because there’s no time like the present.

And, really, there’s no present like time.

Happy Summer!

What are your plans this summer? How does your schedule change? How do you find time to fit it all in?

******

Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

51 thoughts on “There’s No Present Like Time: Summer Hours”

  1. This is exactly the reminder I needed, Amanda! We don’t make “wish lists,” but I’m going to ask each of my kids to tell me at least one thing they definitely want to do this summer. And I’m going to slow down, too — WAHMing be damned!

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  2. Beautiful writing and beautiful post. “But during the first week of vacation, those golden days of summer seem like they’ll never end. The magic of Summer Break slops molasses on the soles of a society too busy to stop and take a breath.” This reminds me of some sticky notes a co-worker gifted me. They have a numbered “To do…” list with #1 being, “Breathe”.

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  3. Like your post, except for the portion about a dog not happening. Dogs are great for kids. I asked my human to look at “There’s no time like the present.” He enjoyed and agreed with it. Quote, “There’s a lady headed in the right direction. We get so task oriented in our lives we often tend to pass this on to the ‘chillin.’ Being ten years older than dirt, I realize how much time we all spend in the crush after becoming an adult. I wish more parents would say ‘What can we do together today.’ Adults should be careful not rob the young of their youth, but should share in it, and be rejuvenated.” So sayeth the Geezer.
    Sandy
    http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com

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  4. I love, love this post, and the idea of a summer wish list for kids. Maybe I’ll have to adopt that tradition, too. Here’s to a long, relaxing, productive and fun filled summer for you and yours!

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  5. Summer changes my life because I DON’T have my granddaughters around to do things with as they are visiting their father in California. I don’t begrudge this because I had them around all last summer when he was in Afghanistan. I’m just thankful that he made it home safely to have this summer with them. I have a lot to do in the summer with my volunteer work and that keeps me busy and I try to get my doctor appointments in during the summer, too. And I write. I have to pick up my book and get serious with it. I do hope to spend some quality time with my daughter, but only time will tell if that will happen. Those are my summer activities.

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    1. I’m glad your granddaughters are able to see their father, Maire, and it sounds like you have quite a lot to do in their absence. I hope you’ll also take some time to just sit and watch the flowers grow. Sounds like you deserve it!

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  6. You are so right, Amanda!! Time marches on….and the kids get almost inexplicably older. I’m thankful that I have my daughter here this summer, home from college, and yep she still has her summer wish list of things to do! It’s awesome because it still includes things she wants to do with me! You are so right on to be thankful for the time together…there really is no present like time! Happy summer to you and your gang! 🙂

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  7. Happy summer to you too! This was an absolutely beautiful post, and I think the idea of having wishlists for the summer is lovely.

    My plans for this summer involve a lot of reading, a lot of games I want to finish, and a lot of quality time with friends. I can’t shake the guilt that I feel, though, when I allow a whole day to go by without doing something “useful” – but then again, summer vacation is a luxury that “real life” (and by that I mean life after college) doesn’t always afford, so I need to try to slow down and enjoy it :).

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    1. You should definitely shake the guilt, because spending quality time with friends and taking care of yourself is extremely useful! Enjoy the time, SL, and thanks for reading 🙂

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  8. Nice post, Amanda. I like the wish list, especially the part about staying up late to look at the stars. Couple summers ago, we stood in line for, like, an hour to look through the big telescope at Vanderbilt U’s observatory. It was definitely worth the wait.

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  9. I wish I’d had a mother like you, Amanda. This post is beautifully written, as usual, but it’s the content that matters most here. I wish more mothers could/would read it. You’re lovely.

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  10. I loved the idea of your phrase “molasses on the soles…” because it so aptly describes the pleasantly slower-than-normal pace of summer.

    Regarding fitting it all in…I don’t, I can’t. I take them one crisis at a time, write my initials in the dust on the furniture so everyone esle knows I know it’s dusty, and just keep on going.

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  11. My workplace observes summer hours – we stay an hour later Monday – Thursday. Then on Friday the office closes at 12:30. It’s like being given the gift of time. And I try to make my summer wish list also. I like to do something that I rarely get to do – go to a movie, see an exhibit at a museum, walk through the botanic garden.
    Here’s hoping you and the kids get to everything on your wish list.

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  12. I am going to love having my 3 babies all within arms’ reach. Everyday.

    Life is so good.

    I am happy to be turning into more and more of an idiot with each year. I care about nothing but being with my kids.

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  13. 12 weeks or less. That sure puts it all in perspective for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about what you wrote here, about relaxing and enjoying the moment with my kids. I have them scheduled for lots of activities, in hopes that they have a blast. That doesn’t mean I will be ignoring my writing, but it’s entirely possible that my writing will happen in smaller spurts. Still, it’s only 12 weeks….

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  14. The summer wish list is a great idea. I wish I didn’t have an office job so we could do that because I think it would be a fun bonding experience. I’m with you on having to put work aside to live life sometimes. Have fun!

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    1. I hope you’ll still be able to steal some moments when you are home, Janna. It is very tough when you’re working outside of the home — I remember. And I give you a lot of credit!

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  15. You couldn’t have better timing. I am just in the middle (muddle) of piecing out a way to have more family time this summer and still write. I haven’t got the balance right yet, but this post helps so much. Thanks 🙂

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  16. I might not get as much writing done over the summer, but am ready to sleep in, relax and enjoy the summer with my kids–as much as 2 teenagers allow! Have a great summer!

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  17. Oh Amanda, I relate to this SO much! I’ve been pouty and moody all week about the lack of time to write or play on the internet. Then I came to a similar conclusion as you did. I can wish the time with the kids or just embrace. The kids won’t be this young forever!

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  18. Love the new profile pic, Amanda!

    Our summer is considerably shorter than yours (kids aren’t finished school until June 24th, and go back the day after Labour Day). We spend a lot of time just trying to pack leisure activities in between work hours! We hope to get the canoe out this year (it never made it out of the garage last year!). I’m always busy in the garden in the evenings too! With luck, we hope to go away on vacation some time in August…

    Have a great summer!

    Wendy

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  19. i loved this post and I think it’s so wonderful that you do these wishlists with your children. I think as adults we should also make a summer wishlist – its a few short months, but make everything you want happen 🙂

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