A couple of years ago, I started a list of things I wanted to do with the kids on summer vacation: places to visit, fun things to do, memorizing a psalm and a poem, Mass and doughnuts midweek. For two consecutive summers, I believe the sum total of things accomplished on that list was a big, fat zero.
This year, I was more intentional about doing a few things, yet August had arrived, and we hadn’t made a single fun day trip. The sound of cicadas signaled summer vacation drawing to a close long before I was ready for it to happen.
So, one day a couple of weeks ago, we went. We had frittered away the morning on Periscope – watching a guy ride his bike and piglets at a fair in Erie. And changing wet panties because . . . potty training, and with less than three weeks until school started, it was time to buckle down and get this kid out of Pull-Ups.
The two previous days had been rainy, and we’d been cooped up inside. The sheer amount of whining, fighting, and crying left me wanting to pull my hair out. Back-to-school uniform and school supply shopping loomed.
But, despite our late start, meaning a couple of kids would probably fall asleep, we set out on an adventure.
It was a near-perfect afternoon.
I’m not a scheduler. Never have been. With myself or my children. But we do have loose routines. And ways of doing things. And I realized how seldom I step out of them.
With four children and a finite amount of money, planning is good. Routine is good. But every once in a while? Spontaneity is even better. It restores a sense of joy and wonder. It’s simply fun – something as adults, we often fail to cultivate.
There’s a simple beauty in stepping outside our comfort zones and exercising our free will whether it’s an unplanned stop for ice cream or undertaking something we’d never done before – running a race, restoring a piece of furniture, hiking a mountain, or even, yes, writing a book.
Life is meant not to be endured, but lived. Plenty of moments and seasons will feel more like endurance, but there is room for wonder and spontaneity as well. It may be as monumental as a cross-country road trip or as simple as a new way of looking at an old problem. And remembering that life is good.
Are you in a rut? When’s the last time you did something spontaneous?
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