Was it enough to make the summer count?

standard August 12, 2013 Leave a response

I am not the type of person who wakes up in the middle of the night filled with anxiety. I leave the 3am panic attacks to M. Once I’m out, I’m out until someone shakes me awake so I can dispel fears, nightmares, or tummy aches.

Last night was a first.

At 4 am I lay there, awake, gripped with a fear I could barely articulate.

Later this morning I was able to pinpoint the cause of the panic.

School starts in 10 days.

Considering how excited I am to get back to having time to myself, you’d think I’d be thrilled, that anxious thoughts would be far from my head. And yet, there I lay, trying to breathe through the tightness that gripped my chest like a vice.

We only get 18 summers before they head off to college, before they plan their summers themselves. Did I do enough? Did I make this one count? Was hanging out, not doing anything the right thing to do?

Maybe we should have had more day trips? Maybe we should have gone on more hikes? On more excursions. Maybe we should have learned something together? Worked on family projects?

Should I have pushed for a family vacation? Should I have done more?

At the begining of the summer the thought of not having a clock to punch for 9 whole weeks seemed too good to be true. We got up when we wanted, got dressed when we wanted, left the house when we wanted. Our only real plans were “lunch-out Tuesday” (decided on by the kids) and swim lessons once or twice a week. Some days we meandered to the park or to run some errands. Other days we just hung out at home. We had a few playdates, a few outings with friends. But really, for the last 8 weeks, aside from one week away in Chicago and a long weekend in Tahoe, we’ve let our desires shape our days.

It’s been lovely. Yes, despite the lack of alone time, it’s been lovely.

The kids have played, have ridden their bikes, have hung out with the neighbors, have fought, have read, have laughed, have done some art projects, have sat around, bored, and whined. We were the poster children for the “stop over-scheduling your kids” campaign.

And I do think it has been a great thing for them. They needed the down-time. They needed to not do anything.

And yet.

I wonder.

Did I do enough? Did I make this summer count?

I have a really clear memory of being 8 or 9 and discovering that summer was almost over and that school was about to start. I remember the crushing feeling of the kind of despair only a kid can feel. I remember letting myself sink into a tight corner between my mother’s dresser and the wall and sobbing. I was in my bathing suit, uniform of that summer, and I sobbed. I had spent that summer just roaming, biking, playing, utterly free. I didn’t want it to end.

I think my goal this summer was to give C and Little L some of that same taste freedom. (Minus the sneaking into the neighbors country club, that wasn’t my brightest moment.)

This morning, because everyone was getting a little stir crazy with back to school anxiety and in need of interaction with other kids as well as a little physical activity, I sent the girls to a half-day skateboarding camp for which they had to wear “real” shoes. As I helped C lace up her sneakers she complained that they were too tight. For a second I wondered if we’d bought her a pair that was too small. Then I laughed and reminded her that anything would feel tight after a summer in flip-flops or barefoot.

She bounced off to get her skateboard and I watched her go. She’s tan and relaxed. She’s had fun this summer. She doesn’t care that we didn’t go on crazy adventures or traveled to places far and wide. She’s just happy.

Maybe it was enough. Maybe it was just what they needed. Maybe next summer we’ll do a lot of the same. A lot more nothing.

Oh yeah! We dog sat for a week too. That was fun!

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