In a week, my husband and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary.
Nine years. Nine whole years.
In a week and two days, our little boy will be turning three-years-old.
Three years. Three years whole years.
In three weeks, our little girl will be starting second grade.
Time. It is running. It is going. It is stopping for no man.
Every summer I have grand plans. Cleaning out the stacks of Shopkins and dolls in the little girl’s bedroom! Reorganizing the kitchen! Deep cleaning the dust that has settled on the edges of the door frames! And every summer the same thing happens: I run out of time.
I am a planner, I like organization, and my daughter will attest that my favorite words to her are “clean that up.” So what happens during this 8-week period, when I have a checklist, swifter, and disinfecting wipes ready to go, yet inevitably end up at the end of the break with even more dirt by our garage door and more toys strewn about the living room?
Life. Life is what happens.
During the school year I am so consumed with doing. Doing planning for classes. Doing grading for papers. Doing emails to colleagues. Doing doing doing doing. By the time the first week of June hits, I am ready for a break. I turn off my computer, erase Google Drive from my memory banks, and have a grand ole time going to the museum or romping in the ocean with the kids. I make a list of things to do so that I will be productive (yet have fun!) during the upcoming weeks. Cleaning. Trying new food recipes. Adventuring to the nearby trails. The summer is looking to be one of accomplishment and productivity.
By week two, we are all settling into a routine, with the little girl heading off to summer school and the little man and I going to story time at the library or running around the gym’s kid’s club. I haven’t yet gotten around to any of the household chores I dreamed up for myself to accomplish, but it’s ok. There’s still the whole summer left.
Week three has me looking for fun (yet free) activities for the toddler and I to engage in. New activities that ensure he is getting his fair share of outdoor time (biking! sidewalk chalk drawing!) are difficult to come by, as by this point of the summer, we have exhausted many of the possibilities. And the cleaning? The disinfecting? The swiftering? Well, an afternoon nap sounds more enticing. Keep those duties on the to-do list.
Week four, and I am getting tired. Physically and mentally. I am craving adult conversation. I am starting to peek in my Google Drive, my work email, looking to see if I can have a conversation with some other adult, some other person who can engage in topics that are more than just about Sesame Street or Lightning McQueen. Doubt that I can even sift through the drawers of Shopkins starts creeping in my mind. Would it really be so horrible if I put that off until Fall Break?
Week five, I dream about my classroom. Literally. I have dreams about instructing freshmen on the first day of school and talking about Of Mice and Men with sophomores. I attempt coercing my seven and two-year-old into using the baby wipes to help sweep the dust off the walls. No such luck.
This is the evolution of my summer.
It would be quite easy to say that my summer was unproductive, my summer was a wash, my summer was wasted time. In reality, these last few weeks have been some of the most rewarding.
I joke with my husband that it is more exhausting to be at home with a toddler than being at work (well, there is some truth to that statement), but if I didn’t have that time with him to read his favorite Planes book or wasn’t able to run alongside him as he peddled his little tricycle up our hill, I’d be missing out. During the school year, I see my students more than I see his smiling face. How wonderful is it that I have all this time to be present, to see his growth, to snuggle with him before his nap?
I admit that I am one to fall into the trap of letting time control me, of letting life control me. I base my life around time–where do I need to be at this moment? What did I schedule myself to do at this time? Am I using my time wisely? Major moments of my life are defined by time, and I use those markers (getting married, having kids) as a barometer. But a barometer for what? To show my age? My experience? My knowledge? When it all comes down to it, time truly is in God’s hands. I may put great stock and stress in the time my husband and I said “I do” or when our little boy decided to enter this world. But what about God’s time? What are the moments HE treasures and desires for us to experience? Are they the same as the ones I value? And what about the times that I see as less than or not as important? Does he still see my summer routine just as valuable as the moment my daughter begins a new grade in school?
It’s a lesson I’m learning, how to enjoy the “being” of time and to know that life is more than clock hands ticking ticking ticking away. Time will continue on, and unlike what Marty McFly or Doc Brown professes, a person can’t travel back in time or alter the future. So what’s next? Just be in time. Just be in life. Savor the seemingly mundane, the seemingly unplanned. Remember that every bit of time here on earth is meant to reflect the love of God.
And with that, I’ve abandoned my plans of de-cluttering my home. I have thrown out the to-do list. I am relishing these last few weeks of summer with my son. I am living, I am being, and I am letting time keep on going.