Should We All Be Summer Moms?
With a pandemic baby, the past two years have been a swirl of asking myself, "Is this safe?" Slowly, the questions became less existential and more Type A: "Are we on time? Are we clean? Are we eating enough vegetables? Should we move to the suburbs?" I was ready to have a real summer, but what does that even mean?
- Written By
- Katie Covington Crane
As I thought of the memories from my childhood summers I wanted my son to experience, it was the moments where we had a little extra agency, like exploring the creek on my Grandfather's farm while the grownups were busy catching up. Or when things didn't go as planned, like the pool party that turned into a powder room sleepover when a tornado blew through the neighborhood.
At home, it meant the time and space to make our own lightly supervised fun, jumping through sprinklers and walking to the local pool by ourselves or staying up past our bedtime to catch fireflies after dinner.
So we started with ice cream. Heading home from a Monday afternoon doctor's appointment with my two-year-old, we should have been heading back to Zooms and school, but we stopped for scoops instead. What strawberries and cream didn't make it to his mouth dripped down his white overalls as we high-fived the teens packaging pints and lingered to watch the garbage trucks roar by us. I was hooked. Even if I wasn't actually OOO until Labor Day, could I treat the entire season like summer vacation? I decided my queston of the season would be "Why not?"
Releasing my pandemic parenting instincts hasn't been the breeze I imagined, but Summer Mom is a mindset; she's a Yes Mom. Summer's magic is in its relaxed rules and malleable sense of time – a messy mix of abundance, freedom, and openness to the unexpected.
So after the ice cream trip, we traded structured soccer classes for walking the long way home. A quick stroll can turn into an epic journey if you've ever let a two-year-old determine your pace. If we run into friends, we stop and play. We snack and brush off the weather forecast.
It's just a start, but it's gotten easier (and more fun) to say yes. Of course, we're not free-range––we mostly stick to a bedtime schedule, and I haven't stopped trying to make broccoli happen, but I stopped micro-managing weekends, so we have more time to see where the days take us. We hit up a Mets game on a 96-degree Saturday and eat dinner at the picnic table at the park with storm clouds threatening the horizon.
The funny thing about summer in New York City is the same funny thing as being a parent: It's time you look forward to for so long, but when it arrives, it's easy to wish it was a little less dirty, a little easier, and went a little more according to plan. But what is childhood if not a wild, messy, blink-and-you'll-miss-it season of life? We can try to clean up, sanitize, perfect and perform it, or we can lean into it and seek out pleasure wherever we find it, let the watermelon drip down our shirts, and track sand from a too-hot beach into the house.
Me? I'm, going to keep Summer Mom around for fall.