Today over lunch, my four year old asked me how many days were left until fall. As a teacher’s kid, he should have known his question broke one of the Cardinal Rules of Summer where one is forbidden from mentioning the F-word until at least the dawn of Labor Day. I did my best to guesstimate the answer while not actually forcing myself to recognize just how quickly September will be upon us.
Somewhat satisfied with my answer, he then attempted to steer the conversation in the direction of Halloween costumes and apple picking. I was forced to derail him via an offering of M&Ms. I just cannot allow myself to be drawn out of my sweet summer frame of mind even one second before I’m ready to. I want to squeeze every last ounce out of our time left in this place where breakfasts aren’t rushed and coffee isn’t enjoyed guzzled from a travel mug.
But, as much as I hate to admit it, summer is on its way out. Each passing day on the calendar reminds me that the sun is setting earlier and we are running out of time for impromptu playdates and unpacked lunches. The truth is, I began to mourn the loss of the season just as we turned the page to August. Although the kids and I do not return to our respective classrooms until the second week in September, there is something about leaving July behind that subconsciously signals that the end is near. The 4th of July is deep in the rear view with only autumn holidays on the horizon.
I don’t remember ever feeling so melancholy about the loss of summer as I do now. Even as a child, I remember feeling by August’s end that it was time to get back to “normal;” to return to the rhythm of school, sports, and schedules. I might not have ever admitted it out loud, but I was never devastated to see summer go. The same can be said of most of my grownup years. In fact, September through December is the time of year I live for; I love absolutely everything about it; the weather, the cozy fashions, the holidays, the comfort food and seasonal decorations. But there is something about the combination of my boys getting older and the years feeling shorter that has me wanting to hold on white knuckled to these last few weeks of summer vacation.
Maybe its because I recognize that, within a matter of days, we won’t be spending as much time together; that snuggling on the couch with cups of coffee and chocolate milk will be something reserved only for Saturdays
that we don’t have hockey. Maybe its because bedtime will actually have to be (strictly) observed for the next 9 months, because each subsequent day will be bringing us far more than hermit crab hunting and boogie boarding. Maybe its because mismatched clothes, bare feet, and sandy hair matter so much less in the summertime, and eating every meal in your swimsuit is a marker of the best kind of day. Maybe I’m just not ready to let go of the ease of it all.
Or maybe, just maybe, its because I realize that my boys will never have another summer quite like this one; they will never enjoy all the things we’ve enjoyed together this summer in exactly the same way. Next year they will be another year older, and things may be different. They will be different.
Motherhood has taught me to appreciate things like seasons in such a different way than I did before. For someone not known for being overly sensitive or sentimental, I have learned to see the passing of seasons as markers in my children’s lives. Seasons represent very specific stages that define who they were at that very particular moment in time. As time marches on, I find myself cataloging memories of them by the season; “Remember last Christmas when Tino…,” “That was the Summer that Alejandro learned to…” and so on. I recognize that the end of each season punctuates the end of one stage and the start of another. I’ve also learned as a parent that we are not always ready for that.
Now I realize that different is not equal to bad. I appreciate change. In fact, I am probably one of the only people on Earth who likes change and accepts that it is necessary and good for all of us. I’m an Army brat; I own change. And I know that as my boys continue to grow older we will experience brand new things in brand new ways that bring us equal amounts of joy as others have this summer. I know that we have an entire lineup of fall and winter activities that we as a family look forward to during other parts of the year. I know that the minute I see each of my beloved 175 students walk into my classroom I will feel content to be exactly where I am; laughing with them and (hopefully) inspiring sound study in the world of Social Studies.
But for the next two weeks, I will study every expression on my boys’ faces as they wade in the waters of the Long Island Sound and listen for the ring of the Ice Cream Man. I’ll laugh at the manner in which my Tino attacks his Sour-Wower Bomb Pop as if he’ll never see one again. I’ll sit with a dear friend in worn Adirondack chairs
with a cocktail as we moan and groan about what’s left to do in our classrooms and watch our boys set crab traps. We will be barefoot unless legally required otherwise, and the time on the clock will be largely ignored.
One of my favorite Americans, Benjamin Franklin, is famous for telling us, “Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” So, with those words echoing in my mind, we will we will cast one more line into this sweet season before we open the door to another.
I wish all of you a wondrous end to your summer.