In an effort to start teaching the kids the days of the week (sparked by wanting to help Ava remember her friends' birthday party), we posted a calendar in the mud room above a red stool and Ava would mark the squares with her squiggly x's. The simple placement was perfect practice for Ava to learn the order of the weekdays - giving her a sense of responsibility (although some days, squares went by bare), to being able to recite Mon-Sun like a familiar song.
I'd like to say that this learning opportunity was the reason for my distraction about the days passing - but the truth is, my internal calendar is still displaying June. I'm at a profound loss as to how the month of August slipped past me. Or July for that matter. Oh July! Where did the entire summer go already?
So after our morning sloshing around between beds, pajamas and cereal bows, I went outside while the kids retreated to the family room for their daily injection of Nickelodean cartoons. I took a deep breath and thought for several moments about the ongoing to-do lists, the 4 books I've started reading, plans for this weekend, and oh - what to do with the kids today. As I was sketching the ideas out in my head, a funny thing happened. I felt a breeze. It wasn't just your typical breeze - that inconveniently blows your bangs over your eyes, but a deep rooted - change is coming - life is good - kind of a breeze. In a summer of 100+ days, this sensory hallelujah overload was so refreshing, I jumped to taste it.
I couldn't let Sept 1 drain out from under me like the summer months did. Today, we were going to celebrate. Beginning with an outdoor walk.
We collected a myriad of sticks, browned leathery-looking leaves, acorns, and some innocent by-standing flowers. Noah and I held hands down the hill... and up the hill. Ava asked about about the human race's supply of oxygen and if we would all "die" if our oxygen ran out (a real concern for her these days since she learned about trees!). These were unexpected, thought-provoking moments.... as well as many with pauses and stops to deliberate on whether we should turn back now or cut between the alley to get home faster.
The weather was warming up, Zoe our dog was panting, and Noah decided he couldn't "walk anymore." When our "It's Sept 1" celebration started to wear off, I took another bite, and decided that we'd make a game out of this. "I'm lost, do we turn right or left? What's the name of our street again? How many steps until the stop sign? Let's count, 1, 2, 3..."
Distracted by Zoe's sudden crouching on the grass, Noah yelled, "I made it. I'm home!" while running toward the swing. The poop bag went unused and Zoe ran inside the house (to poop I'm sure).
Time getting home didn't escape us like I had thought (and secretly hoped wouldn't like the summer months) - but rather was filled with more slow enjoyable moments - the conversations, scenery, sounds... added a dance to our step. Ava and Noah's actions and responses toward my faux sense of direction actually stretched our morning walk even further.
As I was pushing, spinning, tickling, kissing and laughing with the kids on the swing, it dawned on me that this extra stretch of ourselves is like good karma from my carpe diem moment... and karma being a result of projecting my own creative self.
As parents, we have such an opportunity to create these kinds of moments for our children - and honestly - selfishly for ourselves too. The summer months I was feeling guilty about for passing right by me, actually did contain several dozen gratifying days like today - they were just spread out over the weeks and planned more diligently - like our family day at the theatre, going to the ballpark with Aaron, or simply reading 200 pages without interruption and a latte in my hand...
There were spontaneous moments too - like the time we parked the car at our favorite restaurant and instead of going right in to ask for a booth, we crossed the lot in the opposite direction to check out the fire station next door. This turned into a 40 minute event - where the kids toured, and sat in the fire truck pressing every button they could reach and Aaron and I got to meet one of the neatest fireman's serving Highland Park. Or how after our weekly jaunt to Lakeshore for a free craft project, my sister and I treated the kids to snow cones - where the owner surprised the kids with pieces of pink bubble gum - an exuberant discovery to preschoolers more rewarding than gold is for pirates.
Un-impressionable "blank" days on our calendar is like purposeful whitespace in art work. We need it to fully appreciate the bigger picture, to weave together the pieces that make up those events that do shine heavier in our minds. From my viewpoint, it's like someone spilled glitter all over our family calendar - and there is quite simply - a bit of sparkly on every square.