I will be the first to admit that I laughed when Amy Foster, a Disney executive who spoke at the Disney Social Media Moms celebration, mentioned that all we get with each of our children is 18 summers.
I laughed and dismissed the comment that had jaws dropping all around me.
I mean, duh, we get 18 summers, but it’s not like the kids go away after that point. College students come home for the summer. Sometimes they even come home to live after college.
But the words kept bouncing around my head.
Then I did some math.
C just turned 7 this week. That means 11 summers are left until she goes to college.
And what have we done with the last 7?
We’ve sent her to daycare or day camp, rendering the summer utterly indistinguishable from the rest of the school year. We still had to get up early. Still had to rush out of the house to get somewhere on time. Still had to follow a week/weekend schedule.
Now to be fair, until this summer, I had no choice. Employers rarely take too kindly to having moms let their kids run wild in the office all summer. But this year? This year I’m working from home, and there’s no good reason the kids can’t be having fun in the backyard while I plug away in my home office.
I don’t remember all of my summers, but I clearly remember the feeling of relief as June neared. The feeling that soon time would stretch into oblivion, that the days would be filled with just fun and imagination.
I want C and Little L to feel the freedom that endless summer days can bring. I want them to enjoy just playing and being outside, exploring, building, living their childish adventures to the fullest.
Some of my friends are horrified that I’m only signing them up for a week of camp this year. I’m a little scared myself to be losing hours of
free work time every day. I’m not sure how I’ll manage to exercise daily. I’m not even sure they’ll have all that much fun.
But I’m willing to give them a chance.
I’m willing to say “go out and play and don’t come in until dinner.” I’m willing to give them more freedom than they’re used to. I’m willing to pretend they’re not going to make a beeline for the creek that now runs through our back yard. I’m willing to ignore messes, skinned knees, and any skirmish that emerges. I’m willing to forgo carefully structured days and activities. I’m willing to just let them be. All in the name of taking advantage of these last 11 summers.