Over the summer, while I was out for my run, my son woke up every morning to let out the ducks. I knew that when I returned, he would be on the sofa eating his cereal and I would hear the ducks chirping and quacking from under one of my hydrangea bushes.
We talked as I made my smoothie. There was no rushing to drop him off at camp or making sure my other two teenagers were awake to be anywhere, either.
My oldest was diligent about doing his chores as soon as he got home from work. I’m not sure if it was because he had matured, was bored, or realized his mom was just happier when she didn’t have to ask him to mow the lawn.
My daughter’s anxiety went away sometime in April after being home for a month, and I feel like I have my child back.
Our bond has tightened and we had one of the sunniest summers on record where we live. These two things reminded me of the days when they were small and we would play outside for hours because I was never in the mood to take three toddlers anywhere. Well, except to the drive-thru to get some caffeine, which we still do.
Instead of tensing up in the car like I used to, feeling stressed and impatient, I take the long way there as my three kids look out the window and down at their phones.
If there’s a house for sale, we pull over and look just for the fun of it. And because we have the time to do it.
We sit in our parked car and talk. Or just drink our soda or iced coffee in silence.
I’ve had time to show them some of the shows I watched while growing up.
My daughter cut my hair and we did manicures and pedicures at home, along with homemade skin treatments.
I made all their favorite recipes from when they were little and we’ve tried every food on the grill—peaches, pizza, you name it, we’ve grilled it.
Our garden was epic because we actually had time to water and weed and we looked forward to the ritual.
These are all things that used to sit in the back of my mind. Things I wanted to do but life always got in the way and I’d tell myself they weren’t that important.
My children have realized there is something pretty amazing about depending on each other for social interaction and entertainment.
I see it when they stay up late and watch YouTube videos and make snacks as I fall asleep to their private jokes.
I see it when they talk each other into going for our joy rides if one of them says they want to stay home.
I see it when my daughter cleans her brothers’ rooms because she wants something to do.
I see it when I come home from a run and they are sitting eating together, watching the ducks.
I see it when they talk about old memories.
I was so nervous about what this summer would bring.
Would they get out of bed before one?
Would they begin to hate being near each other and fight?
Would they become even more sloppy and complain about their life because they couldn’t see their friends or go to the town fair they love so much?
While the summer wasn’t perfect, it was pretty close. Instead of the four of us climbing the walls, we sank into a comfortable routine that felt just right—not too lax and not too overwhelming.
It’s been such a bright spot during these dark days and I selfishly enjoyed having my kids home more this summer since their years living under my roof are creeping to a close sooner than I would like.
We didn’t do anything epic. I hardly spent any money. There were no trips, no family visits, and no grand parties. They didn’t see more than one friend each.
Despite all this, there was such a sense of calm in my home. It wasn’t here at the beginning of the pandemic, but it’s here now. And regardless of what happens next, I really hope it stays.
But at least I know now, when our routine is taken away from us, we have the ability to create a new one—together—without feeling like we’re missing out on anything.