There seems to be something about the summer holidays, like Christmas, which makes me feel all kinds of nostalgic. I have been thinking a lot about what summer meant to me as a kid, but also about what memories my children will carry forwards with them, and potentially turn into traditions for their own children.
I think there is a definite element of marketers knowing this fact, and I think that lots of parents feel a certain pressure to make their children’s summer holidays magical, preferably with an everlasting succession of day trips to horribly overpriced child-friendly venues. Believe me we have done a fair few of those ourselves this summer, with a varying degree of success, but I’m not sure that those are the things which have really stuck with me now that I’m grown up.
I seem to remember the little things more. Mooching around the garden making potions from flowers and leaves and stones I found. Playing on the rope tied around a stick style swing hanging from a branch of a tree at the end of the garden. Squabbling with my older brother. Eating flourescent blue ice-pops, getting horribly sticky. Jumping through the sprinkler on the end of the hose pipes, or making water balloons if my mum was feeling particularly tolerant. There may well have been lots of day trips too, but if I’m being honest I don’t really remember any.
Living where we do we are completely surrounded by beaches, and I do have a lot of happy childhood beach memories, mainly with my cousins. This summer though we haven’t been to the beach once, a combination of many of them being packed with tourists in the height of the holidays, me not driving, and my husband not being a big sand fan. It’s also strange how I haven’t really missed going this year. I have found myself drawn to quiet, cool, green spaces and the children seem to have been enjoying that too.
I am truly relishing time spent in our own garden, the daily pick of a few beans, a handful of raspberries, some salad leaves and edible flowers. In the past I often fell down at the actual harvesting stage, so I have made a point of getting out most days and just picking a little.
The children will often join me, though what they pick doesn’t often make it so far as the house. I love to see them eating food straight from the plant, I love knowing that they understand that connection. There has also been a lot of tea drinking, sat on the bench, watching the bees going about their daily grind from flower to flower. It’s definitely my happy place right now.
The children have definitely included the holiday squabbling tradition too, though most of the squabbling seems aimed at us rather than each other. I am very grateful for how well they get on with each other the vast majority of the time, but instead they gang together to direct all their displeasure at life on their poor parents. Amongst the warm, gentle rustle of plants and hum of bees there have been lots of raised voices, tears, anger and frustration.
Who knows how they will look back on these days, whether they will ever think of repeating them with their own children. I am bone tired from a really intense time at work with some real chaos and tragedy thrown in. I am finding perspective hard to achieve right now and back to that very overwhelmed feeling which has kept coming in waves, some higher and more powerful than others, since I first found out I was pregnant. But I am grateful for some little windows of peace and magic which have definitely happened this summer. Now just waiting for little man to wake up and I think it’s time for lollies in the garden. Might even be feeling brave enough to get the sprinkler out!!