I am apparently the type of mom that, after a day of playing outside and getting hot and sweaty, sends you in for showers before dinner, but just after you go inside, I grab a pitchfork and unearth the first round of our potatoes that grew out of the rotten potatoes in the cupboard, and the whole thing is so miraculous, that first revealing of golden globes of grace (look at that alliteration!), that I just can’t resist calling you back outside to see the harvest for yourself, to let you dig right down into the dirt with your own hands, even though when I holler up to you from the back door to come, you tell me you’re already stripped of your dirty clothes and in the shower, so I tell you to put anything on, even clean clothes, I don’t care, because you have got to come pull these potatoes from the ground yourselves.
I am apparently that type of mom. Who knew? I surprise even myself sometimes.
I’m told I give off a vibe of being practical and plan-y, but really, what I want to be is full of wonder and spontaneity.
Yes, what I want to be. I’ve been trying this summer to be more attentive and open to possibility, rather to my plan.
I’m also apparently the type of person to whom an acquaintance from church I don’t know really well says, “You look like someone who likes kale. Do you like kale?”
In fact, I do. And I eat kale. I like giving off the kale-eating, green-smoothy-drinking vibe.
But I am also the sort of person who can only handle finding so many little caterpillars in her bag-full of kale she so graciously receives from this acquaintance, even if she’s drowned a whole bunch of them by washing the kale thoroughly.
So there you have it. I’m not always full of wonder, even if I do find the life cycle of caterpillars fascinating and the lacy holes they are able to make in kale quite lovely.
Yes, I’m working on being attentive this summer. Not always succeeding, of course. There are moments every day when I want to pull my hair out and just throw in the towel on this whole parenting thing (figuratively!), but no more than all parents, I think, and probably less often than a lot of my friends who are counting down the days until the school year starts.
So in an attempt to just be flexible and attentive, I didn’t make a big summer plan, apart from our calendar obligations. I didn’t make a summer bucket list. I didn’t plan all the fun things. I never really got around to making much of a daily routine for us, as good as that looks in other people’s lives on Instagram. Summer just kept speeding on by at full speed.
We went to as many library programs as we could, we had VBS, a week off, then I taught for a week of Faithways Academy, had a week off and a homeschool practicum, then tore out our kitchen the following weekend, then had reading camp for a week, and then had another week off. And here we are, at the end of July.
The kitchen is still in-progress.
But it’s been a summer.
The eldest is reading a mile a minute.
The youngest is complaining that her best friend is reading too much and isn’t playing with her enough.
Early on, I did make a list of a few things I hoped we could do together over the course of summer, ways to be intentionally creative. I called it (on the post-it that marks where the list is in my planner) a “making things list.” Making things. We did a few of those things. Not many. I encouraged you to go ahead and get out your clay and use it all up. (It didn’t work–the eldest still saved a few colors for later.) We made hand sewn pillows. (They were supposed to have buttons on them as well, but you didn’t want buttons.)
I didn’t have you work on your stories I had planned. I didn’t make a photobook of your art projects from last school year. I didn’t plan a schedule for next school year.
We didn’t do any science experiments this summer, which I kind of cheated by calling that “making” things anyway, but we did follow a free art tutorial to draw the Saturn V rocket this week in honor of the anniversary of the moon landing.
We didn’t practice baking and cracking eggs, but we did make hardback junk journals, even though the youngest just wanted to make one out of a paper bag instead with no pages, and she insists on calling it her iPad.
We didn’t learn to knit or crochet, not even arm-knit, which I was pretty sure I could teach you, but we did tie-dye, and your dad even tie-dyed one of his old white shirts, so we can be matchy-matchy if we want.
Our adult schedule shifted a bit this summer too. We had to cancel potlucks because of the kitchen renovation, but I did help with a bereavement meal and look forward to taking food to a friend who just had a baby. We also graciously accepted a meal in the worst of the chaos. And you’ve eaten the majority of your weekday lunches at the summer meals program at our local elementary school.
Apart from the potatoes and some volunteer tomatoes, we didn’t garden at all, which is unusual for us, and the raised beds are covered solid with weeds and grass, and even our little slate patio around the grill is more than ankle-high with weeds, but we do have mint going gangbusters, and until the crazy heatwave a week ago, we had a healthy batch of oregano. I call that a win.
I’ve continued to mow and water my orchids inside, but I let the pots on the front porch shrivel up.
I have not been writing you letters as often as I’ve been getting ideas, but we did have a tame turkey loose in our neighborhood last week and it was hysterical the way it was trying to get into everyone’s front doors.
We still have huge chunks of torn-out green linoleum on the back porch, but you two worked together to make an incredible tent out of kingsized sheets in the guest room while we were working on the kitchen.
And I’m good with all of it.
All of it.
Every single ordinary, extraordinary thing that did get done and that didn’t get done. That was planned and that was accidental. That made us laugh and that made our hearts heavy. That bloomed and that shriveled.
I’m good with it.
Though I do sort of wish I had written a few more letters because all of this attentiveness has been giving me All the Ideas!