My Family · On Writing · Parenting

Summer Vacation Soliloquy


Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 2:35pm was the official start of our family’s summer vacation. A bunch of us, parents and kids, hung around in the school yard after the bell rang to talk summer vacation plans and say farewell until September.

I had a giddiness in my tummy that’s been there at this time of  year since I was a child. Here’s the thing. When you’re a parent with children who are in school, your life runs on a different schedule. January is not the new year. September is. September is when school starts and your child’s year begins. June is your December. And like the week before Christmas, the last week of school is a series of sleepless nights and impending freedom where the gift is two months of school!

No wonder this month has felt weird on the insides for me. My body can feel ‘change’ way before my brain starts to pay attention to it. The change exists in how my daily schedules will take a major shift.

Monday, Thursday and Friday are my writing days. That means, these are the days I mentor; I’m in the community doing literary events (leading and/or participating in them) – this includes prepping for these events as well; I’m writing (working on poetry/novel/etc.). Tuesday and Wednesday I’m at Suede Productions as I have been for the last 9 years. While I will remain working at Suede on Tuesday/Wednesday (I was able to get free day camp through the YMCA for these days. Yes, I wrote FREE. Here’s a link to info about it! Focus On Youth Summer Program), the kids will be home with me on rest of the days. The days I’m supposed to be writing.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this – not put the kids in full day camp and/or gotten a sitter over the summer. I did it last year as well. We realized that I was working to pay for sitters/camp care and that didn’t feel right. So, the hubby and I discussed what we should do, and we decided that I’d stay home.

My writing life over the summer shifted. I tended to write unscheduled based on when the kids were quietly doing their own thing. I wrote more at night and had the hubby do bedtime so I could keep writing. I think this summer will be more of the same, with the intention though, of doing more writing. Because the kids are older and can do things on their own for longer and/or join me in a creative endeavour (while I write, they read or paint or write too!), we’ve talked about how to fill our days.

What we all agree on is – sleeping in. 

It’s a family fun fact that we Shields’ like to stay up late watching movies or reading and sleeping ’till our bodies wake us up. Even the dog (after he pees and eats) snuggles back in with us. I do love this part of summer vacation.

I like to get up early though too…earlier than the kids so I can hold the morning in my hands, blog, journal, and write. The mornings always smell so damn good. I sit at the dining room table and type at my laptop, every few minutes, looking to my left out the sliding doors to our backyard…and I get a warmth in my heart. A surge of gratefulness for all that we have. Most times, I can’t believe it even though I’m looking right at it and loving it.

Memories of weeks in Muskoka with family and friends stretch their arms to me from their hiding places in my mind. My hands yearn to hold novels and read all day. My skin yearns to be smacked with cold lake water. My belly yearns to be filled with Doritoes and apple juice in boxes. The best thing about these memories is that I can offer them to my kids – we may not be in Muskoka, but we’ve got novels, water, snacks and vacation.

Our game collection is ever increasing with Clue, Catch Phrase and Guess Who as the newest members of the family. Oh how I love playing games! I’ll openly admit that one of the reasons I had children was so I had people to play games with! And do arts & crafts with! For real! We have such fun, laugh so hard we pee (well, I pee), and I hope I’m building memories for them that will last their life times.

The lists of fun things to do are in…

There is no shortage of excellent ideas of things to fill our time. Not sure we can check each item off, but we’ll do our best. The kids are psyched about a street hockey tournament…likely in August. Why not?

For me, my list is the same as it always is:

Be with the kids, write, exercise, sleep, read, be with family and friends, travel…

At this moment, Jett is outside playing hockey in the drive way and Miller is next door with the neighbour helping her garden. Jett has already said: You’re always on the computer! The truth is – this morning was the first time in many days that I’ve been on the computer. But kids feel time differently, don’t they? I get it.

Summer is here. With wild wind and never-ending rain. With heavy heat and sweaty bodies. We’re ready. Bring it, Summer. I’ll be doing my best to be here now.

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