I find myself exceptionally grateful today.
When I looked at my calendar on Sunday, I saw very little white space: an appointment Monday, coffee with a friend Tuesday, orthodontist on Wednesday, another appointment and piano on Thursday, ballet every afternoon and a trip to Wisconsin to end the week. It stressed me out a little to see it all laid out, but even more than stressed, it saddened me. I've been longing for time to do what summer is all about (to me): the lake, the zoo, Cheekwood, the park, the pool, the museum. Basically, a day that features a picnic, friends and a frozen treat is a great summer day.
Combined with my own desire for down time were two girls who wanted friend time. B's friend C had invited her on a birthday outing that B missed. A's friend had been out of town. With K at day camp all week, this seemed like the perfect week for a big girl outing. So I did what I could: I e-mailed my friend to see if we could reschedule our Tuesday coffee. I checked with A & B's friends. I checked the weather.
And I was granted a reprieve.
My friend was gracious and understanding. The friends were free to join us. The weather was delightful. (If you don't live in Nashville, you might wonder why a high of 90 feels like a reprieve. If you do live here, you know that a high of 90 feels lovely when it's been 98 for several days.)
So this morning after getting K off to camp, A, B and I packed a picnic. There were sandwiches, sun chips, watermelon, grapes, even Oreos (a treat around here). In addition to food, a book, sunscreen and a blanket went into the bag.
The reprieve was relief. Relief from an overscheduled summer. Relief from feeling trapped indoors by sweltering heat. Relief from sibling bickering from too much time together, not enough time with friends.
|Friends and Sisters|
Yet the day wasn't what I had imagined beforehand. My girls are so comfortable at Cheekwood that they move freely from tree house to tree house, from pond to pond without feeling the need to tell me. So while I talked to a friend, they moved on. And on. Often by the time I caught up at one tree house, they were ready to move to the next one. In short, it wasn't a day of mother/daughter exploration. Instead, it was me catching up with a few friends and lots of playing in the pond, swinging on ropes and walking and talking for my girls.
But as I sat on the picnic blanket after lunch while two girls played in the waterfalls and two girls visited the Oriental garden, I realized this is exactly how it works with tween daughters. They want room to safely explore the world, with mom nearby (but not too nearby), a friend along for the fun and lots of open road.
My daughters needed a reprieve today, too. They needed a reprieve from the very things that make our summer busy - a chance to be just A the friend, not A the dancer. And I needed a reprieve from not only the busy schedule, but my own ideas of what summer should be. I'm thankful not only for our day, but for the clarity with which I saw it. I'm constantly learning and re-learning how to parent and I'm grateful for the moments when I can be grateful for a reprieve and learn from it.
|Aboard the Jolly Roger - Argh!|
|Seeing in color at The Giver tree house|