Oh, summer, you two-faced fantasy. You fickle beauty. You inconstant friend. On harsh winter days, we dream of you. We spend all of April and May waiting impatiently for you. In the pick-up line at school, or the hot, smelly waiting room at gymnastics, we pine for you. And then you are here in all your glory. We make bucket lists, visit the beach, buy s’mores and ice cream with abandon….until August, when the gluttony has us lying on the couch, the late nights have us lounging until noon, the entertainment (or lack thereof) has children bickering and whining, and we cannot wait to kiss you goodbye.
The topic in grocery store lines this week and the knowing glances exchanged between moms in the church foyer today reiterate the notion- summer is almost over- thank you all that is divine and relenting! We have checked off activities, indulged in a multitude of ways, and we are…well, over it. My teaching job has always afforded me summers “off from work” (usually meaning: reading up on new novels, thinking about seating arrangements, attending professional development- OK, different post). In my early married years, I prided myself for the summer version of me: Summer Wife. Summer Wife was fun- she stayed out late on weeknights, made hubby’s lunches, kept the chores up, and tackled other necessary problems. Summer Wife was always relaxed and generally well-tempered. The birth of children ushered in a new monarch: Summer Mom. Summer Mom is fun. Summer Mom cuts the crust off all sandwiches, drives across town to the beach sometimes multiple times in ONE DAY, indulges weird fantasies of strange slime concoctions, and rarely yells the word “HURRY UP!” But Summer Mom is TIRED- tired of refereeing fights, tired of impromptu friend visits that last just a bit too long, tired of 4 or 5 different lunch requests (I only have THREE kids- where is all this food going?!) Summer Mom reveled in the No Schedule months of June and July, but she is begging for a calendar so she doesn’t oversleep ANOTHER doctor’s appointment or forget to send ANOTHER house payment. Summer Mom is grumpy- so many questions, so many outings, so many public bathrooms and grubby hands and crowded lines…..the stress level is creeping up while I revisit the underbelly of summer fun.
I am not complaining (well, not much). I love summer. I’m not known for sleeping in, but I am happy to stay in sweats until 9…or 10…or so. I am thrilled to have time to read entire novels (I can jump right back into reading a novel a day in the summer). I am satisfied to watch my kids cannonball into a pool again and again. But I have a wandering soul. The summer days eventually leave me looking for something to do, starting another project I likely won’t finish, and tiring of the constant questions of “what next?” from little munchkins who have grown used to entertainment. I am ready for the expected schedule, the clarity of days outlined by lessons, practice, homework. I am ready for the house to be empty long enough each day to remain a little tidier. I am ready to not be a short order cook multiple times a day. I am ready for the mundanity of daily life. It has all become just a bit TOO MUCH for this Summer Mom. You know the feeling? It is like that last bite of cake that sits unsettled in the top of your stomach- it sounded good, it looked great, it felt right, but it is obvious that it was TOO MUCH! I see that look, fellow Summer Moms. You are in a long line at the fair in mid-August, your eyes glazed, your patience thin, your coinpurse empty, and you hear that whisper- IT IS TIME! Time for September and the ushering in of school, sweatshirts, and pumpkin patches. Bedtimes reminded by early evening darkness and mornings reinforced by a Trolls-themed alarm clock singing, “I will get back up a-gain!”
I’ve been a mom long enough to know better than to wish away the moments and the years. But I have also been a mom long enough to know that our best times are not always long, hot vacations, but sometimes daily car rides after school. Our most intimate family talks are not always around a campfire, but sometimes piled on the couch on a cold evening. Our best selves are not always the fabled Summer versions that while away the time with abandon, but sometimes the stalwart daily versions that find magic in the mundane.
So this is my loving Farewell to you, Summer! As always, our affair has been hot and wild, but I must bid you adieu. Summer Mom must put on real pants (with a button and everything) and transform back into School Mom. But I will try to take a little of your fun and freedom with me this year…I will drag out my summer silliness once in a while-write to me in late September to remind me.