A year ago, I was running myself around trying to figure out what to do with the kids all summer. Maia's day care was closing because the woman running it was having a baby, and John was doing a bunch of summer activities and I didn't know how he was going to get to them. Matt was working bizarre hours training on his new job. And I was starting to realize that my job was turning into something I didn't want it to be.
The weather now is reminding me of that time. May and June on the North Shore are marvelous. Spring, in Nebraska, lasts about four days, and then it's a long, hot summer. Spring here comes so slowly, and then retreats a little bit, then blooms out again, then it snows a little bit. But once it's here, the air is cool and soft and there is sunlight from 4 a.m. to after 10:30 p.m.
Last year, I put the kids in an excellent summer-care program run by the schools. I juggled some scheduling so I could see some of John's baseball games. I took a week off for his summer play. I struggled to do a job I loved in a tense, unhappy office while the sun shone and the kids played on the grass. At work, I parked my car under a basswood tree and would spend a few minutes smelling the blossoms and listened to the kids -- not mine -- at the daycare across the street squealing and laughing and running around. And I would think, Something is going to change here and I am going to change it.
And I did.
This year, the summer is stretching before us, uncharted and inviting as a hidden lake. Matt, having qualified and been certified as a train engineer, is now furloughed for some time and mapping out summer projects. I am writing and editing just as much as I want to, getting involved in new projects on my terms and cutting loose things that don't fit. The kids are scheduled for lots of fun things this summer -- swimming lessons and baseball and summer hockey and soccer -- but nothing feels overscheduled, because I am not overscheduled. There will be time to read in the treehouse and explore across the creek (they are now old enough to cross it themselves!) and to indulge in that special summer boredom that inspires the greatest summer memories.
There is uncertainty, of course -- both Matt and I are, essentially, unemployed. But it feels like it's on our terms, and things are different than the last time we were unemployed. We are very lucky. We are very grateful. And we are excited for this summer.