I have a summer fantasy. It started way back during university. It goes like this: Summer is time for travel, reading books, drinking iced beverages, staying up late, camping, campfires, connecting with friends, fairs and fair food, swimming in the river/lake/ocean, exploring creative outlets, music festivals, flip flops, falling in love all over again while we go on midnight walks holding hands and having sex pretty much where ever and whenever we please. And fit, tanned bodies.
This is my summertime reality: I am sitting here on my unmade bed, using a broken laundry basket for a desk, stealing a moment to desperately write down the discord I am feeling realizing my summer actually is nursing a nearly two year old toddler and wondering how to make it come to a satisfactory end for both of us; hiding from the hot, hot heat in my basement; folding and stashing away six loads of laundry, wondering why I can’t keep only those six loads worth, and chuck out every other stitch of clothing that remains in our dressers and closets. It is scraping and scraping and scraping the paint on the deck and house so it can get that new, preserving coat or three. It is sealing the roof and seems on a leaking ’77 camping trailer we bought to help make some of my summer dreams a reality. It is spending more money than we thought we would on these upgrades and wondering if $300 more for a paint spray gun will be worth the time we hope it will save us. It is navigating two small kids and a husband who is equally hot, tired, grumpy, and full of his own dashed summer dreams, dreams, that like mine have become overwhelmed with home maintenance. It is forcing time to talk and touch so we don’t end up yelling later on. Instead of falling in love, sometimes it feels more like clenching the thread of love that holds us together and desperately trying to remember we are on the same team, working for the same goal. Hoping for the same dreams to come true.
I used to make elaborate plans for travel and leisure. Precious few of them ever came to fruition - and usually because they were paid for somehow by work. Then, being work trips, were not exactly about luxuriating on a beach somewhere. Still amazing trips though. Many, many of my future plans and schemes were really only wasted hours dreaming dreams that never came to pass. I feel too maxed out to dream right now. Yet, even now there is potential to be cooking up elaborate plans for the next five years. My husband wants to dream. I want to settle down deeply in the here and now. I don’t want to look any farther ahead than supper with friends tonight and kids swimming lessons that needed to be booked a week in advance. Being in this season of small people has seemed to weigh me down to a near stop. I took a lot of my dreaming, scheming ways into my first two years of parenthood, but I am resigning myself more to the snail’s pace at which we move through life, and the incredible changeability that happens moment to moment in the lives of small children and all they encompass, even while everything seems to also unbelievably be constantly the same.
I was gifted a mantra about six months ago. It came as I lay in the darkness of the January and February bed, reading books about permaculture while my baby slept beside me, starting tomato and asparagus seedlings in paper cups on top of my fridge. I was voracious in my need to create this garden oasis of berries, herbs and vegetable abundance; however much landscaping is required to make the steep hillsides in my yard terraced garden plots. Unemployed I may be, and unafraid to wield a shovel and wheelbarrow, but time is not one of the currencies I can trade in greatly. That exchange happens more highly in the area of stories read, baths given, strollers packed for outings and the general preparation and deconstruction of meals. I realized that my garden dreams were not going to come true this season. Probably not next season either. I could only do what was in my hand to do, a little here and there, a half hour stolen between pushing swings, or weeds quickly pulled up from the cracks in the sidewalk as we draw with chalk. More than this space, these people will always be my responsibility, and the space, the children and I will always be a work in progress. So while things have ground to a near halt for me, the mantra that has filled my heart with optimism and allowed me to breathe gratefully, has brought me back to living very presently in this moment only is, “I have all the time in the world.”
When I am tempted to become anxious about what may come five years from now, when I get frustrated that grass has been choking out my perennial beds, when my hugelkultur lays half-finished for the season, and the other little projects are scattered about unmade I can breathe and try not to worry about it. I can read one more story. I can take my kids to the creek instead. I can scrape the deck paint and tackle each task a little at a time. I have all the time in the world.
Instead of dreaming of being away, doing exotic things, or spending energy dreaming of a somewhat murky future with potential career options or relocations, I can rest knowing I have all the time in the world.
I’ve heard the “go-getters” in my travels say things like, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It might seem utter nonsense to base my life on an idea that is actually completely false. I do not, in fact, have ALL the time in the WORLD. Don’t think I don’t understand that. It is very apparent to me. I think the truth of “All the time in the world” is inextricably linked to “The most time you have.” It is only now. At once, “now” is both fleeting and eternal. I’m not saying that I’m never going to plan ahead for something; or that I’m going to stop dreaming about the things that light my spark. I’m just choosing to be here, now. Imperfectly, I assure you, but I think this kind of presence in time is actually where all the dreams come true. As for my summer fantasy, there may not be fit bodies, but there are definitely flip flops.