As a kid, summertime was the ultimate freedom. No schoolwork, no alarm clocks, no responsibilities. Hot days filled with swimming, ice cream cones, and spending time with my favorite friends. As an adolescent, summertime was always the opportunity to change and grow and (if you watched Grease a hundred times like me) the perfect time for a new and perfect romance to form. I was always imagining dramatic love stories, and I just knew that every summer I was going to meet the man of my dreams at the county fair, Tropical Sno, or the swimming pool -- just in case you are curious, I did not meet my husband (aka: the man of my dreams) at the swimming pool, Tropical Sno, or the county fair.
As I got older, I began to really hate summer. I don't like to sweat outside of the gym, and living in Kansas in the summertime is like holding a blow dryer up to your face for the entire duration of June, July, August, and early September. There is something about the sticky, heavy, dense air that makes you feel like you are swimming in your clothes in a too-warm hot tub. Refreshing swimming pools become like stale bathwater and every step becomes like a chore. I realized that the longer I was outside, the worse my hair would look and the more my makeup would melt (and believe me, it's no small feat to make my hair and face look presentable), thus turning me into an unattractive version of Tammy Faye Baker.
This is also around the time that I had a giant epiphany. I finally realized why my mom, who has a quite regular length neck, would turn into a giraffe every time we went swimming. I could never understand why she didn't want to get her hair or face wet. 'Go under, Mom!' I would yell, 'The water feels great!' She didn't want to ruin the magic that she had created under the fluorescent lights in her bathroom. As a kid who's only worry was what was for lunch, I never understood. Now, I totally get it, and I'm thankful that the giraffe-neck-metamorphosis gene is one in which I have inherited.
I'm learning, slowly, to like summer a little better. For one, I really don't care anymore how terrible I look in a swimming suit. If we're all being honest, I don't think anyone actually feels amazing being in public in what is sometimes less than a normal bra and underwear (or, if your me, granny underwear and a modest tank top). I don't style my hair and put on makeup everyday anymore (I know, I know, shame on me) since I don't work outside the home (aside from teaching Yoga, but I don't style my hair or put on makeup for that either), so I don't have to worry about melting. Also, I'm noticing that the more I exchange my body fat for muscle, the less I sweat. I don't feel like I'm going to pass out and die when I go outside (drinking more water would improve this further).
Most of all, I'm learning to love summertime because my son LOVES being outside -- no matter what the weather. He loves to explore the grass and rocks. He love listening to the array sounds he makes when he marches and dances on various surfaces. He loves going for wagon rides and for short walks, and to wave at the girls who live across the street. He stands at the door begging to go out with a pitiful 'Out-shi-ee?' (turning the word into three very sad syllables). We drive past the park and he asks sweetly 'Wheee?' -- this actually means he wants to go down the slide but we say 'wheee' quite loudly when he slides down. He begs to swim and wants his 'shoe shoes' (swim shoes) on so that he can go splash in our shallow pool. Even when we have much to do, it's hard to turn down his sad eyes that are exactly the color of the blue-est sky you've ever seen.
So, now I'm the giraffe-neck mom at the swimming pool (after all, chlorine will ruin your hair, you know), and I'm proud of that. I'm learning to love summer more, because I remember loving the carefree feeling of running aimlessly outdoors in the hot sun when I was young. And I want to recreate that for my little guy. I want him to roll in the grass, to smell the flowers, to run through the sprinkler, to be covered in juice from a Popsicle and not care that he's going to be a sticky mess. I want him to only care about needing to splash in the pool, kick around his new ball, giggle when the wind tickles his neck just so. I want him to want to go on wagon rides, to want to walk to Tropical Sno, to not care about grass stains when he falls to the ground in a fit of glorious laughter. I want him to play so hard that he looks like he's wearing a dirt necklace when it's time to have a bath. I want summertime to mean something to him. And, for that, I will love summertime for him and with him.
Go outside and play. Sweat a little. And remember... you're In Good Company.