Summer has finally arrived and as lovely as it is, it’s a really bitter-sweet time of year for me. I seem to spend far too much time thinking about the “What ifs” and “if onlys” and wondering how X amount of years have passed us by already. It feels inevitable that as the nights get lighter and the days get brighter, my mood becomes a little darker and it’s that little bit harder to keep a smile on my face. And I think that is why I keep busy, fill the Summer months with lovely things to look forward to, family time, making memories and reminding myself that time has moved on, the years have still passed us by but that actually, life has been good to us. We have been blessed.
There is nothing I enjoy more than Summer time with the children. As someone who is eternally cold, the luxury of leaving the house with only one layer of clothing is a novelty that never wears thin! There is nothing nicer than watching the children play in the sunshine, seeing their hair go lighter, their skin go darker and the bonus that after a day in the garden, they are more tired than they have ever been after a day stuck in the house!
We tend to spend the whole Summer time in the garden. Out comes the paddling pool, the inflatable ball pool, the wendy house, the swing ball, the play mats and more Happy Land than they know what to do with. They jump from the slide to the trampoline, to the swing, to the summer house, back and forth, up and down, distracted only by ice lollies and gallons of cold juice. And with no TV to distract them, no endless whines of “I want the Ipad!” or “I want to watch Frozen” for the fifty billionth time, they use their imaginations, they pretend, they PLAY.
This week alone, the little summer house has been a shoe shop, a hair salon, a cafe, a castle, a train station and a toy shop. Sat there naked but for their nappies and knickers, hair slick with sweat, their little cheeks bright red, they have chattered, laughed, played and pretended entire days away.
Today we decided to have a day out to Knowsley Safari Park, a place that I used to visit often as a child but never since. And the girls were besides themselves with excitement last night, quizzing me on what we will do, what we will see, will we get eaten by a lion? And so off we set, out of the house by 9am which may well be a record, with a packed lunch and the chatters of excitement from the back. And anyone who questions whether I get fed up at home with the children all day or says, “But don’t you miss adult conversation?”, “don’t you get bored?“, clearly haven’t met my children. Before we had even got there we had enjoyed lengthy discussions on why we aren’t able to race with the other cars on the motorway, why Oscar, our dog, couldn’t join us for the day out, “He might get crushed like a pancake by an elephant Megan, and then you would be sad!!”, and why the chances of a dinosaur being at the zoo today were slim to none.
By the time we arrived at the zoo Harry was fast asleep and yet the girls were hyped up and ready for the safari trail. And my memory had failed me as I had no idea that we were able to drive so close to all the animals, so close infact that when a lion came peering in through the car window I saw my entire life flash before us!! The girls were in their element pointing out the various animals, “An elephant!!”, “A giraffe!!”, “A rhino!!”, “A…..horse??!”, for anything un-recognisable with four legs was immediately named a horse!
And afterwards, as we parked the car ready to see the rest on foot, Megatron, my brutish, brave, fearless little one, was absolutely TERRIFIED!! A sea lion? “Dont like it!”. A reindeer? “Pick me up NOW!!”. A duck? “Me go home!!”. And although I really shouldn’t have, I couldn’t help but laugh myself stupid at her crazy panicked expressions as she desperately clambered up my leg and gripped on for dear life. And I’m sure that I’m not alone in having a child that, when she REALLY wants to be picked up, will grab at just about anything to climb her way up into my arms. And so I spent the majority of the day pulling up my trousers that she was furiously tugging at and hiding my embarrassment as she yanked down my top and exposed my bra every two minutes!!
But, and this is what I love about my girls, when necessary Eva really steps up to her role as big sister and she takes it very seriously! I could hear her telling Megan, “There’s nothing to be scared of Megan, they aren’t going to eat us!”. And she held out her hand or placed a protective arm around her little sister and Megan slowly came round to the idea that if Eva wasnt scared, then neither was she.
And we had a great day, an amazing day infact. And on the drive home as Harry slept, again, and the girls chattered about their favourite animals and competed over who could do the best lions roar (Megan just pipped it), I realised that I had really needed a day like today. There is nothing quite as uplifting as the sound of your children’s laughter, the sun beaming down, not a cloud in the sky, windows down, cruising along the motorway without a care in the world. And as we sang along to “Let it go!” at the tops of our voices I felt truly happy, so much so that I was still singing it on repeat long after the little ones were fast asleep.
And yet surprisingly, despite having such a wonderful day, my favourite part was still coming home. It was Lewis joining us from school, Gaz coming home from work, my four little Doves playing in the garden, clothes off, the sprinklers on, the look of sheer delight on their faces as they blasted each other with water and danced around the garden in the rainbows we made. It was the smell of the sausages cooking on the BBQ, Harry’s squeals of laughter from the swing, the hot and sweaty snuggles as our hair dried in the sun, Lews hand in mine as we soaked up the last of the rays, the realisation that although July is upon us tomorrow and there may be times when I feel sad, I have so much more to smile about.