Transitions, transitions. I love summertime, and today is a beautiful “first day of summer” here in North America. However, saying hello to summer means saying goodbye to school schedules. I’m sure my teenager doesn’t find it difficult, but this working parent does! That which is predictable from September until June will end this week. Starting next week, we’ll have unscheduled time, sport camps, vacations and projects, big and small. The rhythm of activity will differ from week to week, and from day to day.
As luxurious as all the summer plans appear, I admit I feel distress. After a good deal of thought, I realize that it is the “gear change” that has me caught up—how apt! Shifting from one mode to the other, the literal and figurative shift, is what can seize me. This is despite that fact that I succeed in the school schedule of our family life, and I succeed in the summer schedule, too. It is saying goodbye to one, and hello to the other, that is the challenge.
I don’t think I’m alone.
Therefore, I offer you the wise words of my favorite High School teacher, Mr. Carlton McCauley. Mr. McCauley loved teaching, loved his students, loved his wife, loved his life. He challenged and supported us in class and out of the classroom, too. I benefited from his friendship for decades after high school, and still miss him, years after his death. Fortunately, his avuncular wisdom continues in a “Mr. Mac” soundtrack in my head. One of his favorite sayings was “Order is the beginning of beauty. Let us begin with ourselves.” I “heard” that aphorism as I tried to understand the distress I was sensing as the public school year ends.
What order can I enact that will allow for a satisfying summer? What do I need to schedule? What do I need regarding my son’s sport activities, be it equipment or transportation? What household chores can be given to my collegian now that she’s home on break? What summer fun can I be sure we have to look forward to? How will I shift the order of my work day to accommodate pleasant summer activities? What else can I shift into a more pleasing order?
Although Mr. McCauley was an English teacher, you’ll note that I’m not pulling out Invictus with Henley’s full throttle “I am the captain of my soul” declaration. This is quieter. The power of Mac’s “order is the beginning of beauty” mandate is that it is two-fold: “let us begin with ourselves.” Summer will not run rough shot over this working mom, her focus begins with herself. Knowing that I am putting things in order to maximize the enjoyment of summertime is responsible behavior, and it feels good. I won’t become derailed in this shift, and neither will the family.
How does “order is the beginning of beauty, let us begin with ourselves” resonate in you?