This week, summer is upon us. It is a time to relax and take life at a bit slower pace. Most children are out of school at this point and eager to have some fun. That fun can take many forms, including camps, or family vacations, or simply playing outside, reading a book, swimming in a pond, or staring up at the clouds. Perhaps that last one is actually the most important.
We all need down time, and I’m the first to admit I have a hard time with that. So many hours of my day are occupied with tasks that I have to do that I feel compelled to fit as much as possible into the couple of hours a day I can actually claim as “me” time. That’s when I work. My writing and editorial work feeds my soul and it is incredibly important to me. What that means, however, is that I have almost no downtime in my life. After eleven years of parenting, I can’t even remember a life in which I got to relax in the evening, in which work (both parenting and paid work) wasn’t a 24/7 lifestyle.
A few years ago, I started forcing myself to observe the Sabbath. God in His wisdom mandates that we take a weekly break. I always felt that I had observed it simply by going to Mass on Sunday. It was always a day set apart, but it took on a greater significance when I began to truly not work from 6 p.m. on Saturday to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Obviously, my parenting duties never take a rest, but I take a break from the computer (amazingly, the social networks and my email account manage to survive the day without me), and try to use whatever free time I find in my day for engaging in creative pursuits or reading solely for pleasure. I enjoy it greatly and it does refresh me, but as you can see, I even try to make the most of my Sabbath! I’m so determined to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of every moment, I never just stop.
But, it is in the stopping that daydreams can happen. Daydreams are given so little respect in our workaholic world. Yet, they are the place of imagination, and invention, and possibility. Children are in the most need of this place of unbridled opportunity and we parents need to make sure that they get it. They need to dream, to imagine alternate worlds, or various plans for their future, or to create stories in their mind. We need to make sure that our children are not so overscheduled that there is no time or place for them to “just be” and spend time in the company of one’s own mind and heart.
By the same token, we adults need that as well. Summer provides a good excuse to slow down. And so, this summer, I will try to take time to work a bit less and daydream a bit more. I will try to not fill every available moment with some productive task, and will instead take in the beauty that surrounds me and lift my eyes to the heavens. I will appreciate the clouds and the sunsets. I will allow my mind and my heart to rest. I wish you and your children a summer full of daydreams.