I'm an avid podcast listener. One of my favorites is Slate's Mom and Dad Are Fighting, in which three panelists share parenting triumphs and fails, answer listeners' questions, and talk candidly about kid-related topics, from sleep issues to overbearing relatives. In a recent episode, panelist Carvell Wallace reflected on an enjoyable evening spent hanging out on the couch with his teenage son and his son's longtime friend, listening to music, watching YouTube videos and just shooting the breeze.
"There's the part of you, as a parent, that wants to go and take care of business, because that's so much of your job," Wallace said, "but then there's that moment when you realize that, really, your ultimate business is to be present with kids."
I've found myself thinking a lot about Wallace's words this month. A good deal of parenting, especially in the early years, is logistics: preparing food, applying sunscreen, going to doctor's appointments, dropping off, picking up. But I'm trying to appreciate the spaces in between — those moments where I'm simply present with my kids.
Sometimes those moments are silly, like doubling over in laughter with my 10-year-old daughter, Mira, as we watched the piglets at Shelburne Farms run faster than we ever imagined pigs could run. Or doing a dramatic, post-dinner tango across the kitchen floor with my 7-year-old son, Theo. And sometimes they're quieter: a late afternoon spent blueberry picking at Adam's Berry Farm with Mira, occasionally catching glimpses of her between the branches, knowing that we're making happy memories she'll carry into adulthood.
Because summertime for us is a little slower and less scheduled, it seems like there are more moments like these to appreciate. Some of them might even take place at one of Vermont's 55 amazing state parks. In this month's issue, executive editor and outdoor enthusiast Cathy Resmer writes about her favorite parks to camp in with her family ("Sweet Sites"), while Grace Per Lee shares her attempts at an outdoor overnight with her husband and two young sons in "Trial by Campfire." It didn't go exactly as planned.
There's plenty within these pages to help your family make the most of the last weeks of the season, from Astrid Lague's recipe for tropical fruit salad ("Mealtime"), to Katie Titterton's firsthand account of constructing a backyard pizza oven ("Habitat").
As the month progresses, and school looms on the horizon, I know the moments of calm and reflection will be harder to come by in my house. I'm hoping that — in between the grumpy early-morning wake-ups, lost lunchboxes and evening sports practices — I can still find those moments of clarity, where I'm truly present with my kids. At least I can try.