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Summer Boredom

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 play, adventure, create memories;

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!


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