My favorite memories of growing up with my mother revolve around summertime. There was just something magic about the summertime. About being barefoot and chasing fireflies and having long summer days made special by Mom. In fact, there was this book we used to read. I can’t remember the title—maybe it was “Going Barefoot,” but it was about a kid who couldn’t wait to go barefoot and kept asking when it would be warm enough to go without shoes. The mother in the book kept reminding him that June was the time to go barefoot… the magic in that book fully captures the magic of my childhood summers.
We had these two little plastic tables—one orange and one yellow—that Mom would set up in the back yard. My sister sat at one, and I at the other. For lunch, Mom would bring us juice to drink at the tables while we sat and waited for her to bring lunch. My sister and I turned to each other and giggled at the adventure. The birds chirping in the trees, polynoses falling from above, the scent of freshly-cut grass carrying on the breeze. And then Mom would bring out lunch. Butterfly crackers (they were actually shaped like butterflies), ham roll-ups (deli-ham rolled up into kid-friendly pieces), and American cheese slices cut into fun shapes. It was such a fun lunch that I forgot I didn’t like to eat (I was a difficult eater).
Our back yard was its own world, a land of pure magic, where anything could happen. Each summer my sister and I got to pick out a new pair of “jelly shoes,” translucent plastic shoes of fun colors (they have made a come-back in recent years). We got to wear summer dresses (ours usually matched) and swim suits. We listened to crickets chirp and owl hoot. And through it all there was Mom, conducting the summer magic. Teaching us about flowers and birds. Finding fun new ways to style our hair. Instilling in us a love of summer reading and the outdoors.
Summer has always been my favorite season, and there are many reasons for that. But childhood summers were the best for one reason: Mom. As much as she was able, Mom took the summers off or worked shortened hours to be home with us as much as possible. She always had special little ways of making summer days magical, whether it was special lunches outside or trips to the library or beach; eating green beans fresh from the garden or evenings spent making s’mores.
As summer approaches once again, that calm sense of wonder creeps in. The spring peepers usher in the greenery, and I know that the days ahead will be filled with fireflies and campfires, lunches on the picnic table and s’mores after dinner. And my feet are getting restless—they can’t wait until they can go barefoot in June.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!