Once again, June is a difficult month for me whilst living in the UK. The weather has been absolutely beautiful, there has been abundant sunshine, roses are blooming everywhere. However, the days are long, the nights are short, the school is busy, and there is no impending summer vacation as we have to continue slogging through until the end of July. Through the year, I pretend that I enjoy this year round schooling initiative. The term breaks and the half term breaks are nice, although I feel they might be disruptive if I were running a music studio at this time. I would argue, that nothing beats the freedom of a long summer vacation.
Forgive me as I wax nostalgic for a moment. My mother ran a successful music studio (family business is real), and had most of the summer off when my sisters and I were young. My father worked as a CFO and would book off time so that we could do amazing things as a family, such as driving 25 hours with 5 people in a K-car to Disneyland. We would do a few weeks of swimming lessons, and frequent the library, but other than that, we were FREE. We built forts, we slept outside, we rode our bikes, we broke our arms (mostly me- on 3 separate occasions). We were not bored, and I believe that my sisters and I continue to be the creative people that we are today as a result of this freedom. I understand that I am coming from a place of privilege. Most parents likely have to work through the summer, and I know people who have fond memories of summer camps or staying with their grandparents. I understand that the way I experienced summer as a child, is not the only way, but it was magnificent.
My body and mind are programmed for summer. When the sun doesn't set until 10 pm, I know that it's time to be free. To stop wearing shoes and to read more novels. Here I am trapped in the world of drop off and pick up and school assignments, my children are far too young to be receiving homework- but that is a discussion for another day. As we near the end of June, I am DONE. The fact that we must continue this exhausting dance for another month completely depresses me. I long for a time when parents could stay home with their children and have nothing planned. When everyone I met didn't spend half their time talking about their vacations and travels. When a sprinkler and a popsicle meant that you were having an excellent day. When your cousins would come over to play for the entire day. When you would write stories and songs and plays and perform them for your victims, I mean your audience. When your best friend was only a bike-ride away and you were just as comfortable at her house as you were at your own. And let's not forget, slurpees.
Some of what I am feeling is likely misplaced homesickness. I am still excited by a flake cone, a jug of Pimm's can make my day, little children running about in their summer uniforms are next level adorable, happy Brits out in the sun taking off nearly all their clothing and then burning themselves to a crisp is exceedingly entertaining... but it's not my version of summer. We don't have extra funds for seaside or European vacations. I am actually married to a person who dislikes the beach and must be coaxed into most adventures, although I am ALWAYS up for a challenge so it usually works out just fine. I have children who make travelling difficult, adding disability to the mix really changes your options, and I am mostly fine with all of this. Although, now might be my moment to say that "everyone must travel" types make me cringe as obviously, everyone cannot travel.
To be clear, I don't believe that Canadian summers are superior to British summers. Depending on which part of Canada you live in, they can be far too hot, and the mosquito season is INSANE. I think what I really love is my memory of slow living before I knew what slow living was. I am not impressed by busyness. I admire peaceful existence, and removing distractions that are not important. True minimalist living, means keeping what brings you joy, in your work, your home, your relationships, and learning to say no to everything else. This is obviously a counter-cultural and perhaps revolutionary way to live in our present society of being perpetually occupied. I do worry for the future. I worry that we will lose our innate human inventiveness. I worry that we are too busy checking our phones or scheduling our lives and our children's lives to have time for enlightened thought. I worry that we will forget to breathe deeply and look around and notice our world and our fellow humans.
Obviously, school will continue and I will have to make the best of my current situation. I am grateful for the excellent education that my children are receiving. I am grateful for friends they are making and that they are increasing their world view. I am even thankful for lessons they are learning when they get into trouble at school. As for having 2 different schools scheduling their Summer Fetes/Fayres at exactly the same time on Father's Day/my birthday after a particularly challenging week? We will politely decline both and stay home in our bare feet, fire up the barbeque, enjoy having no plans, and daydream about summer.