The Wilder Life: July 2016
07/05/2016 08:00AM ● Published by Christy Quebedeaux
Gallery: Summer of Discontent [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
Summer of Discontent
By Amanda Jean Harris
I read an article at the dawn of summer about the nearly overbearing burden of childcare costs in the summer. How working families, especially single moms, found it about impossible to pay for the summer childcare to make up for the lack of school hours. About how many children don’t get to experience the joys of summer with fun camps full of educational opportunity or travel.
And I thought how very typical of our world. To lament what some are missing out on as though we all deserve a Disney Cruise every year. And then. A few days later I found myself lamenting. Right on my couch. I don’t know if it’s the onslaught of sun soaked photos or the realization that we won’t be participating for lack of both time and money in a lot of things that are the summertime norm.
And for a good few hours I was being all the things I dislike in our present reality. A good talking to and a good prayer from a devoted and understanding boyfriend later I embraced this summer of 2016.
I remembered the magic of summer. I remembered my summers. And in them I don’t remember one single extraordinary thing. I don’t recall one big thing. I don’t look fondly back on some extravagant trip or beneficial camp.
I look back at the golden glow and mystical haze that surrounded that time between the last bell and two weeks before school (because that was when I had to go buy my summer reading books, which I would then read about three days before school started). I look back at a million little freedoms and sweet afternoons. I look back at doing absolutely nothing of worth for hours. Of babysitting my sisters. Of learning to speed load a dishwasher four minutes before mom walked in the door. I remember riding my bike. Too far. No cell phone. Snow cones. Oh, the snow cones. I remember Sonic drinks and eating breakfast at 10 a.m.
We didn’t do big vacations. I certainly remember longing for things, yet finding so much fun in just figuring out the summer day-by-day and hour-by-hour.
Our children are over scheduled, over magic-ed, over entertained, over vacationed in some cases. Every moment is not a MOMENT. There’s a saying that goes something like, let us not forsake the beauty of everyday ordinary and daily accomplishment as though the bigger grander plan is always best.
And it is that way with summer. We will play in the sprinkler. And we will go the Horse Farm. I’ll sit on the reading rug with Wilder at the library (that’s a thing, right? We’ve never actually done it.) And we will play outside until dark. And go to bed too late. And have water balloon fights.
And we will do nothing on some days. And it will be okay. Like everything else in our Pinterest-worthy, Instagram-documented world, there is a temptation to want everything to be done to the best, most thematic, grand manner.
What I’ve realized in these first weeks of summer — summer is gloriously grand all on its own. It doesn’t need any help.