End of Summer Directive: Make Memories Or Else

summer-funI love countless things about summer:  the sweet juiciness of a ripe peach, the freedom from all the gear necessary to survive Chicago’s other seasons, the hot sun on my car’s black interior. What could be better?

Yet every summer I struggle with the pressure to be the poster girl for summer fun.

When it’s sunny and warm, I tell myself we should be outside taking advantage of the weather and our city’s non-stop summer events. Every speck of free time should be jammed with swimming, biking and outdoor adventures like the rest of the northern hemisphere (or at least my summer loving Facebook friends).

That much of the time I’d rather be home writing, reading and futzing – my favorite season-less activities – never factors into my idealized image of summer fun.

photo via Wikimedia Commons

photo via Wikimedia Commons

This summer started off the same. I had many wonderful plans for others – teach our youngest to read, write and ride a bike, help our oldest improve her division, backstroke and jump shot, make hubs more romantic clean out the basement. In July, we’d enjoy nightly family bike rides, weekly movies in the park, and every museum/beach/swimming pool in a 30-mile radius.

My summer plans for me? Coordinate all this spontaneous joy, of course!

Contrary to popular opinion, memories don’t just happen. They require military-quality planning! And for years I’ve been just the drill sergeant person for this social director job. If I made my loved ones miserable in the process, so be it. We would enjoy every last drop of summer, like it or not.

We have memories to make, people, and summer is running out. Where’s the damn picnic basket?

But, did you see us around town enjoying all these glorious summer activities? No, no you didn’t. As my mom used to say, “my eyes are bigger than my stomach.” Back then, she was referring to my food, but this expression applies to my approach to summer. My ideas and expectations of myself outweigh my ability to digest. I overload my plate with shoulds, and then feel guilty if I don’t devour each.

As the end of summer nears, instead of panicking and attempting to pry every drop of fun out of summer’s stingy little hands, I’m ready to let go of the pressure. Enough with the guilt and shoulds and pushing. Enough.

I don’t know how this miraculous transformation came about, but I suspect divine intervention a la Touched by an Angel. As far as I know, Roma Downey did not tap me on the shoulder in a gauzy haze of godly love. But somehow I’ve let go of my summer whip and am ready to relax and enjoy connecting with my family without an agenda. We’ve been playing card games, watching movies and walking around the neighborhood eating Italian ice. And I’ve never been happier.

I’d still like to make a trip to the zoo and another museum before my kids start school in two weeks, but there’s always next summer. Or this winter. If we’re not too busy snowshoeing, ice fishing and tobogganing.

33 thoughts on “End of Summer Directive: Make Memories Or Else

  1. We just had this conversation at home. Where did the summer go? Part of the problem is its been so damn cold the last month! This summer seemed particularly quick though and the kids now have a list of 800 things they want to do before September. But looking back we did do a lot. Our summer just happened to be filled with about 8 zillion travel sports tournaments. I guess that’s fun for the kids, but doesn’t stand out in their minds as “really doing something.” Like you though we always have grand plans at the end of the school year that rarely pan out. My advice… I like to think about my own summers as a kid. Not filled with much other than hanging around with friends, staying up late and sleeping late, riding bikes, playing football in the street, etc. Still GREAT memories though! :-)

    • I agree. My summers as a kid were plain vanilla and I loved them. My parents didn’t stress about exposing us to every summer experience known to mankind. Of course, that could account for my “issues” today – never know! ;-)

  2. I’m shipping mine off to my parents’ house for their last week feeling kind of guilty, but knowing my mom will drop everything and make all those memories that I didn’t fit into the 2013 grandmaster plan.
    I sent my inlaws with them to the Field Museum and American Girl…two places I can skip this year. Yippee!
    Your Michigan bliss looked like enough fun to get you through till spring. Moms should enjoy summer, too. :)

  3. You hit the nail on the head with this one! I can totally relate. This summer I decided to spend less time trying to force activities and just do things that we like to do – go to the pool, spend time at my family’s cottage, hang out with friends – and is been much more pleasant. We are spending this last week before school starts up in Wisconsin at my family’s cottage, which is a great way to enjoy the last bits of summer. I love the summers for the control that they give me over our schedule so we’ve been enjoying lazy mornings too. I think that as mother’s we often feel to much pressure to MAKE fun happen, instead of just ALLOWING it to happen. Because if we are doing things that we like (regardless of what they are), the happy memories will happen naturally.

    • These lazy mornings are the BEST! I enjoy my kids a lot more when I’m not pushing them to get out the door. They appear to enjoy me more too! Enjoy your week in Wisconsin – sounds so fun!

  4. Could you and I have any more in common? Trying to coordinate spontaneous joy? I’m glad you are letting go and having fun. I will do the same, at least until the next pang of panic sets in about summer almost being over…

  5. I know with this great weather, we should be outside the entire time riding bikes, playing tennis, etc. I swear since softball ended, I’ve hardly ventured outside past 6 p.m.! However, I have really enjoyed watching romantic comedies or corny chick flicks with my 12 year old daughter. My boys never liked them and unless the movie includes an extremely hot chick with some gratuitous scene, my husband rarely wants to watch them. So while I too envisioned bike rides and hanging out at the beach, watching these movies with my pre-teen has been a pleasant surprise and bonding experience. I’ve decided not to feel guilty about it because summer, first and foremost, should be a period of time without structure, schedules and lists.

  6. Every summer needs a coordinator of spontaneous fun! I feel exactly this way every summer. And this week, when the mornings are feeling strangely like fall, I feel the same pressure to suck up every last bit summer has to offer.

  7. You know when I feel the most pressure like this? CHRISTMAS time!! i have all these splendid plans and activity ideas and I SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD do all of these things and build traditions and yadda yadda ya. I am a walking EPIC failure when it comes to that stuff. Same with summer. Same with Halloween. Same with Easter. Same.

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