This is the time of year when I seem to get a near-constant lump in my throat. I swallowed hard as I checked the sign at our local outdoor swimming pool, confirming, “Your last day is the Third?” It’s our last full week of summer vacation. We moms stand around, talking school supplies and schedules, shaking our heads in disbelief, marveling—again—at how fast it’s gone. Yes, there have been days when I’ve yelled. Too much. Yes, there have been days when the t.v’s been on. Too long. Yes, we’ve heard Maroon 5’s “Payphone” on the radio at least four times each day. And yes, I’ve answered the question “Mom, what are we gonna do today?” more times than I can count. But summer brings with it a spirit of adventure, a time when we leave the days of sameness behind and set out, together, for sometimes new, yet always fun, experiences. Bouncy houses. Parks. Beaches. Farmers Markets. Cheap Christmas movies in August.
We have all grown, learned, and in some cases, matured. There are obvious ways. Like my three-year-old who slowly and tentatively pedaled his bike with training wheels 30 feet down the driveway and now races around the entire cul-de-sac, boldly grinning from ear to ear. And who started the summer with a life jacket on and now jumps into 4 1/2-foot deep water, freely and fearlessly. And there are subtle ways, too. Like my 9-year-old who would be the first to point out “Boy, this day has sure turned around,” after some particularly rocky mornings. Or who crawled into bed with his little brother to help him get to sleep one difficult night. And then there’s me. Who’s learned that it’s OK to take a few days off from running and simply rest.
Soon my 9-year-old will leave at 9 a.m. and return at 4 p.m, the time I’ve come to think of as the time we start winding down. I now find myself stealing glances at him. I look at him extra long in the rearview mirror, or watch him intently as he reloads his Nerf guns. It’s like I want to tuck those moments away, commit them to memory. To stick them somewhere where I’ll be able to retrieve them when he goes back to school, to remember those blue eyes that sparkle when he smiles.
I hope they don’t remember the yelling. I think we’ll all remember “Payphone.” What I hope they remember is that routine and monotony turned into days filled with exploration and companionship. And that the best thing about summer is just being together.