The day after school ended, we surprised our two kindergarten graduates with a much needed vacation to the local mountains of Big Bear. The first year of school took a big toll on all our lives, mainly from the way-too-long days, the social angst, annoying habits they picked up ("awesoooome!") and major life changes we endured. We went from tons of time in nature to way too much time indoors. So ya, we desperately needed to regroup, be free to just be, and say goodbye to school and hello to summer.
We each had different moments when we let go of our routine home life and embraced being away from it all. For Quinn, my nature boy, it was pretty immediate -his first step out of the city and he was all smiles. My daughter, Talia, who's world revolves around the people she loves and knows (she's an over-thinker like her mom), finally relaxed after I found it necessary to talk (plead with her for my own sanity) to her about not mentioning school anymore. I hear from many frustrated parents that they never hear a single thing about school from their kids, but my daughter more than makes up for that. Daily details of who did/said what in class permeated our lives. When she mentioned a classmate that sadly had to go to after-care like it was in the present day, I realized enough was enough. I explained that school was done now. That school was our lives up until Wednesday, and now it is summer. School is over. Summer is now. Let…it…go. No mas. She can talk about a fun day at the beach with her friends or swimming at grandmas, but no more so-and-so in school ordered pizza for lunch two weeks ago or that mean bully hurt her feelings. In a moment of inspiration, I came up with the code word “grasshopper” as a reminder signal to stop talking about school and to change the subject. After a few practice runs, she never mentioned school again. Whew! As for me, my stress melted away the after getting my feet wet in the refreshing cool stream near the waterfall we hiked to on the second day. For my man it was after he found the perfect campground for his annual guys (drink beer, fart, and be manly men) camping trip. After we were all on the same page, we were full of smiles and tons of silly.
After my anxiety washed away, it got me thinking. That “grasshopper” conversation the day before – it was so symbolic of what our getaway was all about. Our day-to-day lives end up being so much about either the past or the future but not enough about the present. We end up with too many “have to’s” and "shoulds" and hardly any time for just being in the moment. For instance, about 95% of all of our television watching is recorded on our dvr. We watch a show that was on two days ago and fast forward through it. In Big Bear we watched huge gray squirrels play outside and the neat coyote walk down the road next to our car on the way to go fishing. With school it was about remembering (forgetting) to sign permission slips for field trips the next day and planning for important school events weeks away. During our vacation we focused on not tipping over the canoe and marveling at the beautiful scenery. At home we get anxious constantly hearing about the dismal and dire state budget news and the drastic cuts to services and schools, but in the mountains we didn't hear about any of that, only news of an excellent trail to hike and how to get there.I'm certainly not claiming that I didn't think at all about the future, like daydreaming about owning our very own cabin in the mountains (heck, I even bought a lottery ticket while we were there) or the responsibilities awaiting at home, but as a whole I think I did pretty well. Now that I'm home, I try to remain relaxed about the piles of laundry to do and vacation items to put away and the bills to pay. One load at a time, right? I'm certain that the combination of (mostly) being in the moment for four days in nature does wonders for the soul and is as necessary as eating healthy, annual check-ups, and a regular girls night out on the town.
So, while I sit here in the present enjoying my glass of red wine and favorite honeycomb candy that I bought a few days ago in Big Bear, I am also thinking about my fun plans for the week and future vacations during the summer. In one moment I can be in the present, past, and future and feel totally fine with it. It's all about a happy balance, you know?