When I was a new mom, with only my less-than-a-year-old firstborn, I remember another mom with older kids remarking to me, “Eighteen summers is just not enough. Your kids are only home for 18 summers and then they’re gone, I mean, just gone,” as she snapped her fingers and threw her hands in the air. I nodded my head and tried to look sympathetic as she went on about time flying and the woes of kids growing up too fast. In my head, I really had no clue what she was talking about; the fact that Target had set out school supplies seemed kind of thrilling—it gave me a whole new area to browse!
Fast forward 12 years, now I’m the mom of 4 and I’ve observed there aren’t even 18 whole summers you get with your kids. Summer jobs, mission trips, internships and sleepaway camps all become part of the summer norm, and those kids you once struggled to keep busy are busier than you. Perhaps I’m feeling more sentimental than usual this year because my oldest will turn 13 this month.
Thirteen, an official teenager, I’ll be the mother of a teenager!
And this is where my reluctance to let summer go comes in. So, I technically have five more summers with her, right? Five? Five is a small number. I know those days aren’t going to be filled with pool parties and playdates, with trips to the library because she’s read all the books we got last week, or lazy Sunday afternoons at the beach until sunset. I’ve seen the shift happening in her this year, the independence becoming greater, the ability to sleep for 12 hours in a row returning, the desire to be around her friends all the time. I know we’ve parented her to produce some of these results (the independence, self-assertiveness, questioning of information), and this is a natural progression, and yet…
I don’t want to stop taking her to the waterpark or the science museum. I want her to still think those things are awesome. I want her to build forts all day with her siblings while we hang out in our pajamas. I want her to think crafts are cool and popsicle-stick dollhouses are worth the effort.
But the deal with parenting is, it’s not really all about what I want.
So, I’m not excited that school is starting and summer ending because a whole chapter is coming to a close, and I’ve never been good at endings.