Summer has officially come to an end.
I mean, you still break out in a sweat just walking out to the car in the afternoon and the first official day of fall is still a month and a half away. But we are back into our fall routines and the time of staying up late and no homework is over.
As a mom who works full-time and is also a writer, summer doesn’t mean much change for me. The kids still go to “school,” the amazing kids camp offered to staff kids at the church where I work. My hours don’t change, so I have to make an intentional effort for summer to feel different.
It is also hard for me as someone who struggles with perfectionism and striving to make myself unwind. I knew going into this summer, though, that I needed a different kind of season. My life couldn’t keep going at the velocity that had become normal.
It wasn’t even a number of events or the two jobs that had become the problem. It was an attitude of my heart.
I entered summer just trying to make it through the week, counting down the days until the next family getaway or fun event. But my daily life needed a serious injection of the lazy days of summer.
I avoided social media because if I saw one more mom who had the summer off with her kids talking about how good life was by the pool I was going to throw my computer across the room.
Can you tell I needed a break?
There is this one thing we do every summer as a family that I begin counting down to in January.
I am serious.
We set a date for the beach early in the year and as I get closer to the date, I post some kind of countdown in my house.
All year I look at the canvas above my kitchen sink with longing. It is a photo of this long dock that is sheltered by the haunting arches of live oaks. The Intracoastal Waterway on which the house sits is like a little haven in the world – and in my year.
It isn’t just the location that I love, although coastal Carolina is one of my favorite places on earth. It is also the company.
My two best friends from college live many miles from me. I can’t just hop in the car to see these girls that knew my dark years and my rededication to the Lord, the way He changed my life and the ups and downs of the past fifteen years of my life.
So, once a year we load our families in our vehicles and make the long trek to the beach house. I literally can feel myself begin to breathe differently when I step foot into that house.
Life slows down. There are no schedules or plans except the routine we have gotten into over the past nine years of our annual ritual. I lie on the dock and talk about life with people who actually have taken the time to know me. The real me. The dark. The good. The crazy. And they love me so wholly anyway.
Later in the summer when my anxiety had gotten high again and I found myself aching for another opportunity to run away, something hit me.
It isn’t the escape from reality I was missing. It was the authentic community I find in my best friends. It was being known.
I looked around my own little community – a mom and dad I talk to nearly every night but don’t see nearly enough; my sister who is a best friend but our lives stay so often too busy; co-workers I sometimes go all day without seeing as I sit staring at a computer all day.
In my own home my husband and I sit in the same room after putting the kids to bed but are often on different tasks until we fall in bed exhausted. My kids are small but getting more able to really converse and are full of curiosity and wonderful questions that I so often don’t really hear.
I realized the community I so crave is right at my fingertips but so often kept at bay because of the tasks that take precedence over people in our culture, in my life.
So, I said no to some events this summer. I wasn’t at church every time the door opened. I let some invitations go. I would go to the gym earlier so I could feed the kids before and then get home for a late night at-home date with my husband. I played more games with the kids and had more real conversations with my six year old.
I looked at her innocent little eyes and saw not one worry about meeting others expectations or a hint of hurry. I found myself wanting to be more like her and trying to take those deep breaths, the beach house kind of breaths, when hurry would creep into my heart. It wasn’t a picture perfect summer but it was progress.
So, now summer is over.
But I am trying to take a little more of the summer slow into my fall. Into my every day. Into my heart.
Join the Conversation – How do you slow down and make time for community in the busyness of life? What did God say to you in this last season of your life?