I’m sure you’ve seen them floating around, maybe you have one yourself … the list of all the things you want to see and do with your children during these fleeting summer months. You know how it sounds …
the zoo, the museum, a drive-in movie, the farmer’s market, baseball games, running through the lawn sprinkler …
I have an array of activities I’d like us to accomplish as well. But as I was contemplating our summer bucket list recently, I began to sense that perhaps I needed to refocus my attention. While it’s natural and good to create magical summer memories for the little ones in tow, the very task of striving to strike off summer-bucket-list items can sometimes have a tendency to hijack the simplicity of summer. The time passes so quickly. The sun rises and sets and arrives at its equinox in June. And just as soon as the daylight hours have stretched into their longest reaches, they slowly begin to shrink back. Dusk creeps in a bit earlier, and before we know it, September is beckoning.
So this summer, I’m going to try to focus not on a list of activities to rush through, but a heart-attitude to embrace. I want to take note of the simplicity of the moment: cherry-red popsicle stains on the tiniest pouts, a sidewalk stamped by wet bare feet, the summer sun bouncing off a blonde ponytail. These are the things that will imprint themselves on my heart. So this year, I’m making a summer bucket list of a different sort, one that’s less about the activity and more about the attitude. It looks a little something like this:
~ I will resist the urge to measure the success of a day by quantifiable accomplishments. I will instead use as my measuring stick the amount of dirt beneath fingernails, bugs captured in jars, tender words spoken and echoing laughter.
~ I will not only embrace the beautiful mess that is sticky floors, wet swimsuits, sidewalk-chalk dust, grass stains and littered Legos, but I will also invite others into the profound beauty of this season of life.
~ I will say yes to the simple pleasures: bubbles, sprinklers, board games, paints, water balloons and story time beneath bed-sheet forts.
~ I will put down my phone and the trappings of constant connectivity and take up instead the tender grip of their little hands.
~ I will strive to keep in mind that the building of memories is far better than the building of an immaculate house.
~ I will give myself grace when the days stretch long and my patience wears thin.
~ I will take photos by which I can remember these days, and I will resist the urge to edit every image.
~ I will model forgiveness, asking it of each little one when I’ve wronged or offended them.
~ I will allow myself the freedom of frequently serving peanut butter and jelly.
~ I will make an honest effort to stop measuring our activities against those of other families. Summer isn’t a competition.
~ I will slow down, allowing room in our schedule for the chasing of fireflies, the leisure of long walks.
~ I will choose mercy over justice when accidents are made and little tears spill over onto chubby cheeks.
~ I will teach them that summer sports aren’t about winning or losing, but instead about learning to react graciously when both come our way.
~ I will recall Philippians 3:14 often, realizing that in a very applicable way and for today’s purposes, the goal I press on toward may just be bedtime!
~ And lastly … I will fail at this list, but I will remember that His mercies are new every morning and His grace abounds to me without end!
Now it’s your turn! What would be part of your Summer Bucket List of a Different Sort?
* A little note about these images. As I was reviewing photos on my computer, I stumbled upon the two featured here. My five-year-old son “styled” and shot these all by himself. It was such a fun little surprise for me to discover them, and they fit the content of this post so well, that I just had to feature them! I hope you enjoy his creative work!