I have enjoyed the last 3 weeks more than I have enjoyed summer holidays in years. There were no fancy international adventures and no lie-ins (coz, ya know, 16-month-old) yet these past few weeks have been defined by naps, ice cream, family and sunshine. We’ve spent tons of time outdoors, had our own mini local adventures and above all, we’ve simply woken up and decided in the moment what we wanted to do with our days. I feel like we’ve finally experienced a genuinely lazy summer and I’ve loved it.
Without the expectation of a perfect vacation or the internal pressure (self-inflicted) to make the most of the long days and warm nights, summer has managed to sneak up on us in the shape of an emotion I haven’t truly felt in a long time: freedom.
I’ve got to hang out with my hubby and our little boy in the way I had so hoped we would be able to while I was on maternity leave, but circumstances during that time made it impossible. We haven’t had colleagues – however wonderful or well-meaning – dictating our time and our priorities. We’ve had a precious few weeks of family independence and it has felt fantastic.
I don’t remember the last time I approached autumn with a smidge of sadness. ‘Fall’ is still by far my favourite season but this year, my joy at its arrival is punctuated by a hint of melancholy at having to say goodbye to summer. The unburdened liberty of choosing how to spend your time – even if subject to some family limits – is the part of maternity leave I loved most and this summer has reminded me of that.
I love the feeling of ‘back to school’ and routine and am always quietly disappointed that I no longer have a genuine reason to buy all new stationery. September is a month of new beginnings every year, almost as much as January, in its own way. I hope that the conversations and rest and joy and inspiration that have been so present these last few weeks will make the next few months even more crisp and new, with the memories of glorious summer days powering us forward.