I put a lot of things off, saying I'm too busy and other such excuses. One of the things I've put off for far too long is a summer visit to Maine to re-introduce my kids to where I grew up. The last time I took them "home" my youngest was still in diapers.
Somehow I am going to make it happen this month. It is doubly important this year because my dad's health is failing and right now we're waiting on an MRI to confirm or deny that a tumor lurks in his brain. It's a hard fact to face. To me, he's always been stronger than Superman and indestructible despite the rheumatoid arthritis that has gnarled his nearly 70-year-old body.
I've carried a lot of guilt and regrets being so far away from my family all these years. My kids see my parents and my husband's mom once a year, maybe twice in a good year. Every year I think about going home, only to have summer escape me. Between camps and Irish dance and work, one moment the bell signals the end of the school year and the next, I'm shopping for pencils and lunch boxes again.
Every summer, I've always looked back with a heart full of regret. My summers, it seems, are filled with "shoulds." But busy life marches on to the fall and winter, and if I keep busy, it's easy not to think about the things I should have done with the kids or that my parents are getting older and might not live forever.
I don't want another summer of regrets this year. I want to take my kids to Maine, to Navy Pier and Millennium Park, to Chinatown, to the Indiana Dunes. I have the next month and a half to do it before it's back to school and a calendar overfilled with activities.
Do you have summer regrets, too? If so, make this the summer you change that for yourself and for your kids. No excuses. As always, if you run out of ideas, we've got you covered with fun suggestions and a calendar jam-packed with things to do.
Happy July. I hope you make a big splash-and great summer memories-with your kids.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.