Whatever kind of working mom you may be--work at home, work outside the home, work at making a home--the summer presents three months of challenges and opportunities. Maybe you're excited: All this time with the kids!!! Maybe you're at a loss: All this time with the kids??? Maybe you're feeling trapped: All this time...with the kids. I'm a "work outside the home mom" so summer for us means a slightly different version of the same routine we have in the school year. My littles go to day camps instead of to school. But I've got some time off saved up and we'll be enjoying some adventures this summer. With three kids at very different ages--3, 7, 14--I'm going to be spending three months with vastly different approaches to the same goal: giving each of my children the kind of summer he or she needs.
Adventure Girls with the Second Grader What was summer like when you were a kid? I spent a lot of days with my beloved grandmother while the rest of my family worked. It may sound boring, but we had some fine adventures. They might have been as simple as picking wildflowers and learning how to arrange them or making homemade ice cream, but those adventures were special because I had Grandmama all to myself. That's the key to planning a special summer for the kid who sometimes gets lost in the shuffle--focused time. That's my plan for my middle child. She's not the baby, she's not the biggest. She deserves some time at the center of my attention. Last year, I took a few days off in her birthday week and we came up with our own "Adventure Girls" camp. She was still too young to go to a real sleep away camp, but had seen her big sister enjoying summer camp for years. So I let her make a list of summer camp adventures.
She narrowed it down to: ride a horse, dig for treasure, and go in a cave. We left the rest of the family at home and hit the road to the North Georgia Mountains. Our first stop was Mason Mountain Mine to dig for treasure. The gem mine just happens to be owned by the family of a friend I've known since kindergarten! They made my daughter feel extra special--gave her an official "staff" t-shirt and prepared a special bucket of dirt and gems with lots of shiny stuff hidden inside. My girl and I spent a few hours on the water trough panning for treasure. We found a big chunk of milky green aventurine. As a souvenir, I had it cut into two pieces and set in necklaces for us. It's our special Adventure Girls secret identification! We stayed overnight at The Dillard House, a mountain hotel that offered horse rides. She was too young to go on the trail ride through the creek (her first choice when she saw the brochure). But she was plenty big enough to ride an old mare named Chocolate around the practice ring for half an hour. She still talks about that horse. When I mentioned to the barn manager that we were on a mother/daughter adventure, she ducked into her tack room and came back with an old horseshoe for us to remember Chocolate by. It still sits on the mantle in our den to remind Vivi of her special adventure with Mom. It reminds me of the kindness of strangers.