This morning I read that we only have 18 summers with our children. I read this right after I found myself yelling at four little (and not so little) people who live with me to find their own dang flip flops, clean the glitter up out of the laundry room floor (again), pick up the balloons they dropped, and stop cutting that t-shirt in half to turn it into a crop top.
Sometimes it feels like time crawls by and sometimes it feels like it’s flying. But I always feel like I’m cleaning something up and raising my voice to someone. You might know how it is.
Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s tenth birthday, and this morning I came across a whole bunch of her baby pictures from when I was in the hospital with her. The first pictures of her cute chubby little face, with her big sisters cuddling her and looking at her in wonder (and me and her dad doing the same thing.) And now suddenly, she’s ten! How is it even possible? Have we already somehow used up ten of those 18 summers? It seems like just last week that she was throwing a fit on the pool deck and getting herself kicked out of swim class!
And here I am, finding myself going back and forth between looking at my strong and ever-growing, ever-changing children in wonder, in amazement, in bewilderment, and in abject terror.
This year we’re having the “do you think that’s modest?” debate. I know that my oldest child is a very modest person. She always has been, and I don’t really think that becoming a teenager is really changing that fact. I do think that she doesn’t always realize how articles of clothing just LOOK differently on her body now than they used to. Same with my second oldest daughter. Me talking about it drives them absolutely nuts but it’s practically impossible for me to keep my mouth shut about it! I’m trying, but oh, how my grandma’s voice keeps coming from somewhere deep within me. I know who my girls are inside, where it matters. But when did they become these young women? When did it suddenly switch over and now there’s grown-up looking people standing in the place of my two little girls? 18 summers. And I’ve already used up 14 and 12 of those with these two.
So now I’m sitting here at the pool in the shade under a bunch of trees, listening to the kids yelling and the splashing and the sounds of Hotel California and Father Figure as the music floats from the speakers over the pool area. Those little white poofy things that are probably allergies incarnate are flying through the air along with the occasional little helicopter whirly thing and the breeze makes the 85 degrees feel more like 72. In other words, it’s one of those perfect early summer days. Even though the kids fly through the PBJs and the cookies and avocados I’ve packed during the very first rest break and they’re already hitting me (and Adelaide) up for money. I make them give her an IOU because they are constantly stealing each other’s money (whether purposefully or not, I can’t figure out, but I do have my suspicions.) They take their snack bar treasures and head to play tether ball.
During the long – and I do mean LONG – months of winter, this is what I long for. A day just like this. Exactly. And sometimes when it’s here, I forget to soak it in, to enjoy it. I worry about whose sock is this! and why didn’t you put your flip flops away! and who owes who $2.00! I mean, really, in the long run, what more is there than exactly this?
What more is there than my beautiful girls with their eyes squinting in the sun, their long, strong legs – not quite yet tan but on the way – my girls with their freckled noses and crazy laughs, my girls with their inquisitive glances and their quick smiles and quicker jokes. My boy with his “Dumb and Dumber” hair cut, his constantly sagging swim trunks, his ever-dancing feet, and his never ending search for adventure by way of a skinned knee. Seven of our summers together are gone; seven summers of him swinging from monkey bars, peddling his little green tractor for all he’s worth, seven summers of him begging for just one more Popsicle. “Or maybe two more, okay Mom?”
This breeze, this sun, this day, my babies. Soaking it in. I guess we think we have 18 so we can take our time enjoying them, but who really knows? This could be it for me. That sounds morbid, but as “Man Eater” finishes up on the radio and Take On Me starts up, the lyrics seems oddly fitting:
I’m odds and ends
But I’ll be stumbling away
Slowly learning that life is okay
Say after me it’s no better to be safe than sorry –
Take me on
I’ll be gone
In a day or two.