Being Mama · Fail · good life · Kids · one little word

What I Did on My Summer Vacation


So, the first part of summer kind of kicked my tail.

I had big plans – truly – to finish a bunch of projects and to write often because of ALL THE TIME that would magically appear without school or sports or other extra curriculars. BIG. PLANS.

I was also the mom at the beginning of summer rejoicing at the thought of long, unstructured days, singing the praises of getting bored and open-ended play. Who needs summer camps, I said. We have a backyard, I said.


About the middle of July, dark clouds started forming. I felt that we (I) had accomplished nothing, we were all starting to get on each other’s nerves (even in the backyard), and the prospects of my mom’s visit, week-long church camp, and our family trip to Southern California were still too far in the distance. I started planning camps for Summer 2016. I started organizing play dates with reckless abandon. I gritted my teeth and survived.

And then, after family visits, camp, and vacation, we got back into town, cleaned our clothes and our rooms, swept away the pine needles and the sand, and had a summer restart. And it’s been pretty great.

I started embracing the slow moments and the unscheduled time and, instead of trying to fill them with errands or projects or crossing things off the to-do list (or feeling guilty about not doing them), I just let them be.


And so, on the last Tuesday before heading back to school, I found myself reading a book on the daybed while the kids played in the backyard. I found myself drawing in my journal while BB and BG drew in theirs. I found myself browsing books at the library, following their whims (books on costume-making and papercrafts and dragons and masks and doll houses).

I found myself writing.

Honestly, these are all the things I aspired for our summer to be. And they are mostly the same things we were doing at the beginning of the summer, but with more joy and peace in these last few weeks. What was different?

We changed our perspective.

Or maybe it was just me. I changed my perspective.

I saw what was most important in my day. I let go of my agenda for what we should be doing and embraced theirs. And, amazingly, I accomplished what I needed and wanted as well – the dishes and the errands, and also the reading and the writing and the creating.

Ideally, all these “One Little Word” lessons would stick with me – purposeful, slow, refine – but in reality, I have to keep learning them over and over and over again.

red zinnia

But I think that’s what LIFE is about – about seeking a restart daily, about adjusting our perspective to a bigger one, about new mercies every morning and every moment.

And while I’m sure we’ll be doing a couple of organized camps next summer (I’m not crazy), I hope that the unstructured time we do have will be more like these last few weeks of summer instead of the first.


Sorry for the long, unintended blogging break (see above)! How has your summer been? What are you learning in this season of life right now (big or small, simple or profound, serious or funny)? I’d love to hear. And thanks for reading!



6 thoughts on “What I Did on My Summer Vacation

  1. I love unstructured time…. and I love crossing things off the to-do list too. It’s good to have a little of both. Relishing the unstructured allows me to not feel guilty about the later focus on the to-do list. The worst is having happiness with neither.

    Here’s what I’m learning: I miss summer break!

    1. YES! I think that might be the key. And I feel like my family does much better with the to-do’s after they’ve enjoyed the unstructured. I’m missing break, too, and we’re only 3 hours in to the school year!


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