The good old times

As I write this, spring is in full swing and my house and yard are a mess. 

With all of us running in and out of the house, it’s even more chaotic and debris-filled than the winter months when we were holed up with books, screens and baking projects.

Now — with our entire yard being used as part of our living space — I keep thinking I should weed more, paint the walls and clean/purge/organize to make my house more like my friends’ more-perfect homes. 

But more and more, I’m realizing I don’t want to keep thinking like that. 

I’m starting to think that for better or for worse — in the wise words of those deep-thinking Okee Dokee Brothers — These are the good old times. 

This is it — right now. This summer, this moment, this life. So when my son — who is finishing FOURTH GRADE — says to me: “When will you come play with me in the yard?” 

I know I NEED to say RIGHT NOW, even when there are countless other things I should/could do. 

It’s not easy. Let’s be real: As parents, we’re all so busy, so stressed, so tapped out, so over-screened, over-scheduled, over-fed and over budget. We’re under-slept, under-exercised and utterly under-appreciated most of the time. And we’re judged — a lot.

Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to long for better days — to think ahead to when the kids are older (or when school is back in session for fall), when we have more money and time, when things that seem so unattainable now are attained.

But I don’t think we should do that. 

My son just turned 10. TEN! And I can tell you the past decade has brought all kinds of crazy challenges. Those toddler years were sometimes nightmarish. But when I see the photos of my dear boy from that time, I look back with pure longing and so much love. And I see so much joy. 

Well, why not see that in the present? (Cuz today will be yesterday tomorrow. Ain’t it crazy how time works out?

The thing is this: I know the one thing I’ll never get back is the chance to do any of this again. So I’m going to stop seeing the projects I ought to do. And start seeing my kid, playing in the late-day light, begging for my attention. I’m going to set down my phone (Instagram stories be damned) and live

Check out the pages of this mag — our annual Outdoors Issue — for some ideas about how to do that.

And, when it comes to all the things that pull you away from your kids this summer, don’t forget these words (typically attributed to the poet Walt Whitman): “We were together. I forget the rest.”