LSS: Living on summer time

I lost my watch the day after school was out.

Since then, my girls and I have been living on summer time.

Most every day since the watch disappeared, the word schedule has rarely reared its ugly head.

These lazy days have been such a gift. For the first time since either of my daughters could remember, they’ve had a chance to be around a mother who wasn’t a geared up, watch-glancing, “Let’s go”-yelling, food-slinging, car-starting, brakes squealing force of nature.

I don’t know about them, but I’ve liked it.

For the first two weeks of summer, an injury prevented me from being in my typical mark-items-off-whatever-list-is-in-front-of-me mode. I could sit, and I could think, but that was about all.

Turns out, that time was beautiful. Certainly, our go-go culture wears a girl like me down. But what does it do to our children? Perhaps they don’t know what it’s like to operate in a non-worn down state?

Five consecutive pajama days fixed that.

It’s funny how little my daughters and I accomplished during that time. This slow-living has been more like the summers of my youth than any I’ve had in the decades since. The days and nights have been so unscheduled that my daughters have, on occasion, been bored — scandalizing, I know, but it’s a state I believe their generation needs to know better.

Time is surely elastic. Without a watch on my wrist, it seems even more so. These days, sometimes when I realize just how much time has passed since I last looked at the clock, I’m in shock.

When you have time, simple things take longer, don’t they? Or maybe that’s the time they should really take and our compressed, fast-food society has removed the bliss of lingering over a meal, sitting on the couch shooting the breeze, reading a book at 2:30 in the afternoon or painting toenails.

While results of a pinched nerve linger and limit, escaping the expectations of accomplishment does not come easy. Does that part of our culture come straight from the Puritan work ethic? Has technology placed even higher expectations of productivity — even in every day living?

I believe it has, but I’m equally certain that the added productivity comes at a cost greater than its worth. Taking the time it takes to do some of life’s basics has made me reconsider our family’s lifestyle. Choosing to live life in a way more in line with the generations before us — whether that means walking instead of driving, home schooling, growing fruits and veggies, eating in more and out less — is often, according to friends who have tried, a lot less complicated than one might suspect. Breaking away from cultural expectations, however, is not without cost. Most of the price, it seems, is tied up more with other people’s expectations rather than the real contents of day-to-day living.

Truth be told, I believe I could find my watch if I really looked for it, but for now, I’m going to stretch out summer time as long as I’m able.

Jan Risher’s column, Long Story Short, appears on Sundays. She can be reached at

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