Photo: Two little goofs on the last day of school. It was “Fancy Day” and “fancy” for my boys means they get to wear hats.
“Now listen to me. You’re going to have a wonderful summer. There are many good things planned. You’ll get to do everything that you want to do. Even if you can’t do a thing today, you’ll probably be able to the thing tomorrow. Knowing that, what’s the number one thing I don’t want you to do every day?”
The boys, in unison: “Ask for a thing over and over and over again.”
“Ask for a thing over and over and over again. It’s not going to get you the thing. It’s just going to make me angry. Okay? If you’re patient and you’re cool, you’ll get a whole, whole lot. It’s going to be a great summer. Ok?”
Just like that, summer has started. My boys were among so many hundred students who came streaming out of their school screaming with joy. I wonder if the other parents in the pick-up line were feeling the same way I was: a little excited, a little bewildered, a little apprehensive, a little tired.
I know, intellectually, that summer is coming every year. I know this because I plan for it. I spend half my winter getting everything lined up: camp, more camp, a trip to Maryland, playdates and day trips. I look forward to summer all winter long. But then, like the event horizon of a black hole, mid-May comes around and there is a point of absolutely no return. In fact, there is a point of acceleration. Suddenly, there are field days and class plays and recitals and premiers and meetings, and the teachers have us parents in a whole bunch during those precious last days. Next thing you know, BAM! Kiddos are streaming out of the building talkin’ jive like, “MOMMY! WHAT ARE WE DOING TODAY?” and “MOMMY! I’M HUNGRY! WHAT IS FOR DINNER?” and “MOMMY! HE HIT ME!” The house isn’t quiet. The fridge isn’t full enough. The day is not your own anymore.
Umph. Just like that.
This is the time when I tell myself not to be envious of the other moms: the ones on their way to a house on the Cape or on the Islands, or have a place in Maine or a spot in New Hampshire. I remind myself it’s not their place, it’s their parent’s place, and they have to pile in with a bunch of siblings and cousins and that’s not actually as fun as advertised. Then Twiddy sends me photos of still-unrented houses at the Outer Banks, the high-end places that go for $20k a week. And I sigh and hate myself a little bit. Just a little, little bit. Next year, I tell myself. Next year, it will be different.
But really, there is only this year, this summer, that I have to make the best out of. Today is the summer solstice, the perfect day for Quiet Thoughts. Today is the longest day of the year, the start of a new season, the official marking of the change we’ve seen coming. It’s also a reminder that seasons do, indeed, change. Today is the longest day of the year. Tomorrow will be a little shorter. The day after that, shorter still. Change is inevitable, which is scary and beautiful. Productive time, as I like it, will return again in time. But for now, there is only now: long days, warm temperatures, open windows, and children who are fully free and happy from head to toe.
I will have to choose this knowing every day. It will not be easy. There will be days this summer when I will wish for a little time to myself, or I’ll fall behind on my work, or I’ll be frustrated from repeating “stop that” or “please wait a moment” or “yes, but please give me a second” for the umpteeth time. I will have to choose to remember that these are the long days. These are their free days. These are their uninhibited happy days. These are the days filled with who they are, right now, and isn’t that wonderful?
Because just like that, we’ll be back at it again. They’ll be back at school and I’ll be back to work. And that’s ok, too. Seasons are what they are. Let us love the seasons we are in and accept them for what they are. And thanks be to God for the changes: the ones that sneak up on us, and the ones that we get to look forward to. Whatever season you’re in, Dear Reader, may it be one that challenges and satisfies in equal intervals.
The sun is setting in Massachusetts and it’s 8:18. That’s a big deal, actually, because it’s been rainy all day. The sun made its appearance today only a few hours ago. It’s 70 degrees and not terribly humid. It’ll get into the low 60s tonight, good sleeping weather in this old farmhouse without air conditioning. There is birdsong. There is a light breeze. Country darkness will be here soon enough, and I pray to see so many stars and maybe a little glimpse of the moon. We endure the winters here because the summers are just so wonderful.
Are Solstice wishes more powerful than other Friday wishes? Should we dare to find out, Dear Reader? Do be sure to make a few of your own just for you. Let’s find out together how they echo through the rest of these long days. I wish for you peace. Peace, I think, is a really hard thing to find right now. Our neighbors, those among us who came from other places to live a different, better life here, are under extraordinary threat this weekend. I wish them safety. I wish them sanctuary. I wish them peace. I wish you peace, too. I wish, with all my heart, that you will extend a bit of peace to another human being this weekend. However you can, however is possible, extend peace in some sort of manifestation to a person this weekend. And if you cannot do that, then choose to witness. Witness our current history of peace broken. Witness our current history of state-sanctioned violence against a group of people. I wish you voice and courage and words. In the face of what is happening, do not choose silence. I wish you light. When darkness descends and unspeakable things happen, I wish you the courage to turn your lens and keep the lights on. Don’t let evil reign and dance in the dark unseen. Shed light in your witness, share your testimony with others. May the light that lives in each of us and dwells among us make speed to save us and make haste to help us.
Dear Reader, you are loved. You are loved because you were created thoughtfully and beautifully, and with a purpose meant to do good for those other beloved people you share this world with. It is your duty, and I hope your delight, to do good things and be a bit of light in the world. When you embrace your best self and shine your brightest, you inspire others to do the same. That’s what we need right now. Light from light. We need you right now, as you are. Please walk your tallest, speak your loudest, scream your bravest, and shine your brightest. If we each do that, we may just be able to save this place. That is my deepest wish this solstice night. But above all, no matter what, know this: you are beloved. Near and far, by people you know and people you don’t. I dearly wish that someone tells you so this weekend. When they do, listen and know. Do be sure to tell someone else the same in turn.
Until Monday, my Dear Reader, shine brightly and take care.