Photo: Bethany Douglass
We have 3 school-aged kids who are on summer holidays. I love summertime, and I’m feeling the tension of wanting to soak up every minute and maximize these fleeting times with my kids, with the day-to-day, continued needs of life.
I want to be with my kids to craft, explore, linger over board games, walk to get a cold treat.
I also have responsibilities to work, to function, to plan, to keep the life-wheels in motion.
Is this the lie, the false pressure of modern motherhood? That nagging insecurity — when I’m doing this, maybe I should be doing that; and visa versa?
But, there is more to the equation than just obligations vs. fun.
I want other things for my kids, as well as the freewheeling activity of summer. I want the benefits of me working, busy, ignoring them, leaving it up to them to be their own masters of ceremonies & event planners. I want resilience, independence, and spontaneity. I want unstructured time, creativity born out of the absence of activity. I want adult-free, directionless, meandering. I want, for them, the gift of boredom.
What I remember of my childhood with the most nostalgia isn’t outings to the swimming pool, or camping in the woods (sorry, Mom & Dad), but… the swaths of unburdened time.
Maybe that is what I long for the most, actually; what I envy of my kids’ summer days the most acutely & what I long to recapture. Simplicity of life. Freedom from nearly every responsibility but keeping yourself alive.
Messages fly between extroverted friends: “I kind of miss school 🤫”
My kids laze around after chores are done and the TV is banned and vaguely lament their boredom… I know there is a sense of daunting when you look down at the hours of unscheduled time of a summer day (or a covid isolation, for that matter). But, there is a sweetness to it, too.
I suppose that the grass may be greener on the other side, but age & experience tell me it’s far more difficult to capture that freedom of boredom — and the creativity, margin, & loose brain wandering that result — as an adult, even on vacation.
I still try, though :)
Long live summer!
This is a question I was posed by someone I love, someone who knows me and what I do. But this was a rant borne, I think, of the powerlessness and overwhelm of learning more about the world; of being faced with the cruelty & despair of suffering; of coming to see — and really feel — the frustration that some people with money, power, & influence, continually wield it unjustly with no end or recourse in sight.
Do I know what a big problem human trafficking is?
Yes, it is a big problem. Yes, I am aware of it.
I love summer, and I think at least partly it’s because as a rebel (who resists expectations) I am nostalgic for the glory days of few obligations or responsibilities. I wrote about this last week… it’s a theme!
And what is more leisurely than strolling the stacks at the library, then lazily reading on the hammock, couch, in a treehouse, on a blanket spread in the grass or on the sand. I seemed to have the luxury of endless hours of reading in my youth, though now that pleasure is mostly saved for holidays and Sunday afternoons.
The threat of technology to our humanness is no new fear (hello, Blade Runner! …actually: goodbye, you are a super boring movie 😆). But, there seems to be an acute crisis of our current cultural moment, as we relate to technology.
Here is just a fraction of writings from the past month addressing this: