What Are Your Hopes for This Summer?

summer childhood memories

summer childhood memories

Last week, I stepped outside for an early morning walk with my toddler and six-month-old, and I was struck by the scent in the air. It was spicy. It was sharp. It was garlic

We live 15 miles from Gilroy, the agricultural town proudly known as “The Garlic Capital of the World.” You can smell garlic early in the morning and late at night. People either love or hate it and I love it.

And, as soon as I caught a whiff, I was transported back to the summer after fourth grade.

That summer, my mother was determined to have my brother and me play outside as much as possible — instead of being glued to the TV in our garage. So, she did two things: cut off our cable and enrolled us in the local swim team, which held practice at 7:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.

As soon as she announced these plans, my brother and I shot back protests: “What do you mean no TV?!” “Swimming at 7:30 a.m.!!!!” “How are we supposed to relax?” “I hate swimming!” But my mother is a “you can’t knock it till you try it” kinda gal.

So, for two months, we rolled out of bed each morning and hopped into our brown 1990 Dodge Grand Caravan. As we padded to the outdoor community pool, striped with red-and-blue lane dividers, the first thing I’d notice was the aroma of Gilroy’s garlic. It felt like an added insult to the injury of waking up early all the summer.

The first two weeks of swim practices and cartoon-free afternoons felt like the longest of. my. life. I loathed the sting of cold water every morning and missed watching back-to-back episodes of The Powerpuff Girls.

But on week three, something changed. Slipping into the pool began to feel fun, instead of jolting. And once I got home after practice, instead of wondering what shows I was missing, I played make-believe games with my brother. We’d pretend to be spies retrieving a message left by James Bond, or we would just knock around in the front yard, saying hi to elderly neighbors and their pups walking by.

To this day, I’m not sure if my mom had envisioned this result, or whether it was all a fluke, but making us start our days outside and taking away the TV set the rhythm for a slow childlike pace. That summer, we learned to find joy in ordinary moments. Like taking evening bike rides around the neighborhood, or eating lime popsicles on hot afternoons.

This summer, my husband and I have planned a couple birthday parties and trips. But mostly I’m hoping to carve out days where my kids and I can enjoy so-chill-they’re-almost-boring summer moments. I’m already trying to settle us into a morning walk routine. And if we’re lucky, we’ll make it out early enough to smell Gilroy’s garlic.

What are your hopes and dreams for this summer? Do you have any plans or rituals? Please share below…

P.S. Trying out slow parenting, and our very low-key summer checklist.

(Photo by Jimena Roquero/Stocksy.)

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