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Christine: Summer as Intermission

Christine Brandel is a Studio Mothers contributor. She also blogs at A Hot Piece of Glass.

The summer of 2012 feels like an intermission. My kids are 4, 6, and 13, and I planned no organized activities for them this year. No summer school, no week at Girl Scout camp, no trips to visit Camp Grandma. I’m fine with that, as it saves a little money while my husband starts a new job, and it gives me the opportunity to really be with my kids.

My oldest spends the summer with her father, so that leaves the two little ones at home. We joined the neighborhood pool for the first time this year, and I signed them up for swimming lessons, free passes for bowling, and movie tickets. Our family took an epic road trip from our home in Virginia to my father’s home in Miami, Florida, last month as our family vacation, so that part of the summer is completed.

I’m surprised by how well we have been able to fill our days thus far. The mornings have been for swimming – before the pool gets really crowded, and the weather gets ridiculously hot – and the afternoons have been for everything else: Wii gaming (we’re a big geek family), making things, playing with toys, building forts and complicated Rube Goldberg-like machinery in the living room. We started a complicated jigsaw puzzle and have spent a lot of time at the barn where my middle daughter takes riding lessons. I plan to read them the first Harry Potter book, and we haven’t gone bowling yet. There’s still time.

It’s a good summer. The “intermission” part comes when I think about myself. If you’ve ever been to an evening-length performance, you know about a classic intermission. Time to get up from your seat in the theater, enjoy a beverage or snack, chat with other theatergoers, let the first half of the performance sink in, and reset your attention span so you can be fully present for the second half of the show. That’s what’s going on here. Right now, the insane heat wave over central Virginia makes it impossible to run my kiln and torch. I can’t stand to be in the garage workshop for any length of time to do any metalwork, and I feel devoid of ideas for anything I *can* do in the house for my metal and glass primary art forms. Even my “day job” has suffered, in the sense that I have had to work significantly fewer hours because I can’t get into my office with my children in tow. Telecommuting works when the kids are absorbed by the Wii, but sometimes I really just need to sit at my desk. I’m handling that by working in the evening and going to the office after everyone else has gone and my husband is home, but that’s not something I want to, or am able to, do every day.

The intermission of the summer of 2012 is a hold on the “regular” activities that make up my life. Wait, artwork and creative pursuits. I’m going swimming with my kids now. Hang on, medical records and conference calls, it’s time for doing puzzles. We chat, enjoy snacks, play, stretch, and let the last school year sink in before we prepare for the next year. It is resetting my attention span so that I can be fully present for the next parts to come. I know that at the end of the summer, when my oldest has returned to this nest and school is starting again, I will resume my usual routine – kids to school, do some work, make some art, pretend to clean the house, keep up with the myriad details of life with three children – but for now, this glorious intermission works for us. I am finally relaxing into the notion that in several weeks, all that “other stuff” will be waiting for me, and I will pick it up and continue the performance of my life, much more present, hopefully more relaxed, and ready to get on with the things I let go of temporarily. It’s been fantastic.

How does the summer change the “performance” of your life?

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. For many years I was a classroom teacher, and so the summer intermission was a regular part of my work-life experience. I loved having permission to step away from my work to pursue other things, and I also loved the energy and enthusiasm I felt when returning to the classroom in September. An intermission is a beautiful thing…

    July 18, 2012
    • It really is. I don’t think I appreciated it until this year!

      July 19, 2012
  2. You are so lucky that your job allows you to take a summer “intermission.” My mom was a school teacher, and spending summers off with her made some wonderful memories. I’m trying to balance the fun of summer while still building up a regular creative practice. So hard when the pool is calling me, haha!

    July 18, 2012
    • I think the one thing I wish I could do more of is my *own* creative work this summer, which is hard to do when you’re wrangling little kids in the pool! ;)

      July 19, 2012
  3. TAM #

    Reblogged this on TAM's Garden.

    July 18, 2012
  4. i can relate a lot this week. my boys are back from their summer visit to their dad’s, everyone’s usual activities, including mine, are all on hold for much of the summer, so we’re just kind of hanging around with each other. i am doing smaller creative things while i try to recover from my trip before i have enough brain power to dive back into my manuscript. mostly, just trying my best to value this open ended time with my 17, nearly 14 and 4 yos.

    i can’t believe this is the ‘last summer’ before my oldest is officially a grownup and prepping for college.

    August 1, 2012

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