Summer. As it comes to a close, we celebrate the ‘last’ of everything. The last day that Cedar Point is open during the week. The last day for Soak City until next summer. The last hot day. The last morning XC practice. The last Summer Shandy (which apparently was on everyone else’s mind this past Labor Day weekend, too…because there was none to be found in Huron or Sandusky.). The last summer festival. The last day before school starts. The last haircut of the summer, to get rid of all the damage the chlorine and sun have done all summer long.
Growing up, my family had a boat on Lake Erie. We kept it at Cedar Point Marina. That was the hardest ‘last’ for me. The last Sunday night that we pulled out of the marina, saying goodbye to the boat as it was pulled from the water for the winter. I vividly remember gazing out the window of our van as we drove off. The rides were quiet, the air was chilly, the docks were emptying out. The lump that welled up in my throat, and the warm tears that streamed down my face, signified my first experience in letting go. There’s something about the lake that crept into my heart and set up camp when I was little…and it’s no wonder why I am about to move to where I no longer even have to walk down the street to see it…rather gaze out my front porch. Just knowing it’s there makes my day an automatic thumbs up.
So why do I have that same lump in my throat? Why are the warm tears beginning to stream down my cheeks? I no longer have to say good-bye to the lake for the winter. No. Now, I have to say good-bye to something that means much more to me than that. Something that has not only set up camp in my heart…but, rather, taken over it. The last day of summer means the last day with my daughter, Brianne. It’s back to school, for her, this week. And, I have to tell you, even though it’s just pre-school, our time a part each weekday is a little bit longer every year…and it’s a little bit harder for me to say good-bye to her on that first day each fall.
This year, I lose my ‘toddler life’ schedule. The one that allows me to pick up and go to the zoo on a weekday when everyone else is in school. Or, hole up inside on those gloomy rainy fall days…or snowy winter cold ones. Brianne will go to school now Monday through Friday morning. My heart is breaking because I know this is only preparation to let go of her for all-day-Kindergarten next year. And, I don’t like to let go of her. As much as I trust that she’s in God’s hands…it’s so bittersweet to kiss her good-bye as she happily skips in to class to play with her friends.
Much like there are few words to describe the way I fell in love with my children before I could even feel them move in my pregnant belly…there are few words to describe how it feels on the last day. Not just on the last day of summer, but in those moments when I know I’m witnessing the last time. The last time she rode her tricycle before we gave her a big girl bike for her birthday. The last time she played in Choo Choo Lagoons at Soak City…trading it in for water slides and deep water pools. The last time I had to help her get dressed, or dry off after tub time…the last time she played with her favorite farm animal toy she loved so much as a baby and toddler…the last time she needed a glass of warm milk before bedtime…the last time she needed to stop for a break when out running a mile with me…
Although I’m surrounded by ‘first times’ that are equally thrilling as the ‘last times’ are sad, watching Brianne grow up is so bittersweet. I look at my cousin, who I held as a baby, who’s in 8th grade now…or my nephew, who I remember watching run in junior high…18 and a senior in high school this year…I know my turn is coming. I know that letting go isn’t going to get any easier as each fall approaches. And, I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’ll be emotional each fall as I kiss her goodbye that first day of school. It’s true, what all mom’s say…”if I could only find a way to freeze time…”
All of the work I do as a parent to try to be the best example for my girls…all the praying I do that they will lead healthy and happy lives…all the reflecting I do on the fun we’ve had….the rushing around to fit in the experiences I don’t want them to miss out on….the life I cram full of life lessons, chore charts, coaching, volunteering, play dates, grocery runs, library story times, cross country meets, dance class, Cedar Point…it’s a busy life, but a happy life.
“Mom, can we please have a girls night tonight? Can we please, please, please….pretty please…have a girls night tonight? Just me and you and Lo, Mommy?”Brianne asks.
It’s music to my ears.
“Absolutely,” I tell her. Every time. And, I drop what I’m doing. Because any day could be ‘the last’ time she asks.
Do you know what else is hard to put into words?
How proud I am of Brianne. And how thankful I am that, as hard as I try to be a good mom, I’m never alone in my efforts.
High five, God. High five.
Happy Back to School…