This was the summer we said yes.
Yes to lazy mornings in front of the TV because it was what they felt like doing. Yes to the whole day on the beach, forgetting about nap-time because the sand between our toes felt right. Yes to chocolate ice cream for breakfast and vegetable-free meals for lunch and dinner. Yes to going on the biggest slide for the biggest kids at the park - even though my fearless baby is only two.
We said yes to breaking the rules, to late nights, to doing whatever we felt like despite the long list of errands that piled up. They might have been small acts of rebellion - going out on cool mornings without socks, walks in the rain without umbrellas, frivolous presents bought on a whim with little thought of our family budget. They might not have been sensible decisions - three late nights in a row and a pub gig at the end, letting them wear their silly shoes to the park knowing full well they would probably fall and graze their knees and hands in them (they both did).
But still, we said yes.
My husband, my children, me. We shunned the things we felt we ought to do. We ignored the routines, the timetables, the set of rules to live by. All these complicated, unwritten commandments I have formulated over the last few years, all these inflexible must-dos - we forgot about them.
Other people's tragedies, people at the periphery of my life, made me stare at the briefness of life earlier this summer. I felt angry that time could be so short, I pledged to make it count in those hours that I wasn't at work, in those hours of school summer break.
And now, as a new school year looms, I am determined to continue to say yes.
When the hands on the clock mean again that I must wake my son for nursery before he is ready, when his schedule means I'm hurried in the morning to get his packed lunch made, when my working hours mean I will barely see them for one hour of the day... I will still say yes.
The odd late night, the odd on-a-whim trip to the park just to go on the swings - even if it is after bath-time. The odd night without a bath because we're still in the garden, the odd morning of TV or dry cereal for dinner... stretching the rules won't break us - instead it could make our hours together brighter, less fraught, and somehow more ours.
Our summer spent saying yes taught me that our family won't break if we snap the rules in two. Saying yes to my children, listening to them, following their wishes, scrunching up the timetable stuck to the fridge - that was what we needed.
I know it will get harder once the new school term starts to keep doing this. I know the frown lines will reappear without me noticing, I know my shoulders will tense up and I will sigh in exasperation that no we can't just go to the beach this weekend, I know I will raise my voice and shout that it's time to hurry home from the park...
I know life with its rules and conventions and demands and expectations will take over once more. I know sports kits and library books will need to be remembered and homework will need to be done and early nights will be needed in order to get us all to where we need to be early the next morning.
But I'm going to hold on to one word. More often than just every now and then, I'm going to give in to what they ask. They're young, they might not make the right choices, but their choices are still theirs and there to be valued.
More often than just from time to time, I'm going to turn my back on what we need to do, or what the clock calls for us to do. I'm going to instead let us follow what feels right, for all of us, together.
I'm going to say yes. We'll do it as a family. We'll do it together
Images blogger's own
Kiran Chug is a mother of two who works and lives in London with her family. She blogs at Mummy Says.Suggest a correction