This week marks the first official week of summer break for my big kiddos; school officially finished up last Thursday at 11:30. All of us were happy to toss the backpacks into a far corner of the house, dump papers into the recycling bin, and shove the lunchboxes into the back shelf of the pantry.
The alarm clocks in the big kids rooms have been silent.
The school uniforms have been replaced by gym shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops.
Breakfast for two of my older sleepy head kids has morphed into a very late brunch; the other, who, like mom, is an early riser no matter what time of year it is, has spent his mornings in his Lego mancave in the basement, creating to his heart's content.
The baby, who is now really a sweet 14 month old toddler, has been delighted to have her favorite people around her all.day.long.
And I, the mom who keeps all the proverbial plates spinning, who, like all the moms I know, like all the moms out there reading this, lives by The Schedule which is never really just one Schedule but a mishmash of every schedule for every person under your roof, many of which overlap, all of which are important even when they conflict, and all requiring the same attention to detail regardless of whether the family member affected is still in diapers or is almost a teenager -
I have been exhaling.
There have been long walks in the morning with the little one in her stroller, with nary a thought to getting people to school on time or did I remember to pay that one last school fee? or who needs to be where today and when do they need to be there and do I need to get someone a ride? Oh no, wait, am I giving someone a ride?
There have been lazy lunches, eaten at just about the right time in the middle of the day, kids wandering into the kitchen to help with fixing plates, the gang gathered around the table together to the delight of the youngest, extra hands helping with cleaning up.
There have been long afternoons with naps for the littlest while the bigs hang out in the basement, amiably pursuing this or that, sometimes together, sometimes separately, but always happily, happy to be together, happy to be home.
There have been trips to the pool, despite the chill in the air, and the thrill of cannonballs, marco polo, and toddler toes dipping in the baby pool.
There have been late nights of baseball and softball, playing boardgames, reading and listening to books on CD.
Even yet, The Schedule marches onward across the calendar, marking ball games and appointments and bills to pay and commitments yet to come.
But after the frantic pace that always is the last two months of school - Easter! Spring Break! Birthdays! Baseball! Baseball! Softball! First Communion! Spring Concerts! School Parties! - slowing down and doing nothing has been like waking up and finally seeing everything.
There is so much to see and feel and do in this life, so many little moments and opportunities for gratitude that simply evaporate and disappear in the pressure cooker that is the normal day-to-day routine for so many of us.
What struck me this morning, pushing the stroller up yet another hill, was the the need we have for stillness and silence. The need all of us - no matter how young or old - have for time and space to think, to listen, and to reflect.
This week has been a boring week, a week of long, slow days with plenty of time to breathe easy, read deeply, laugh loudly, listen closely, and hug tightly.
And I am thankful for it.