writing

18 Summers Slipping Through My Fingers

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Summer kicked off officially this week, huh? Forget the rained out Memorial Day plans and the fact an umbrella is your new go-to accessory. Summer is still upon us in calendar pages if not sunshine.

School’s out and the season of juggling kids around camps and swim lessons and jobs that don’t take eight-week breaks has begun. My husband used to remind me all the time—he still had to get up and go to work even if the rest of us didn’t. These days, though, I’m the one squeezing writing hours in between the runs to Jan Walker’s art studio and MOSAIC at Cornelia First Baptist and volleyball workshops and GA camp at Pinnacle Mountain. I’m the one wishing everyone would get back on their routine already so I could finish a project.

Except—eighteen summers.

I know a writer who’s built an entire brand around that concept. Eighteen summers. Think about it for a second, fellow harried parents. We get them for eighteen summers. That’s it. Eighteen summers worth of schlepping to the lessons and the camps and expressing delight over modern artwork that we can’t imagine hanging right now. I’ve been told, give it a decade. You’ll dig out that canvas and put it over the mantle just to remember the summer they were six.

Or eight. Or eighteen.

It’s really not a long time in the grand scheme of life, is it? Eighteen summers to hold them close, give them memories, control their activities, their play dates, their bathing suit choices. Eighteen summers to let them go to bed late because fireflies come out at dusk. Eighteen summers to let them wake up early because the sunrise over the ocean is a precious gift to see. Eighteen summers to remind them to turn off the television and get outside and jump on that trampoline and how about weed the garden? Eighteen summers to teach them tomatoes grow on a plant and the Tallulah Gorge lake is always about sixty degrees.

My oldest is twelve going on sixteen and I don’t have eighteen summers left. Truth be told, I barely have four before she’ll be driving and too cool for mom and playing in the creek at Unicoi State Park. Only a few brief years separates her plans from mine.

I wish I could give them every day this summer. But no parent can really do that and this is the truth of real life—the laundry and the grocery store and the work all still have to be done. Sometimes a movie has to substitute for a sitter and some days the van doesn’t need to leave the driveway.

But on the days I can, the days she’ll remember from the first eighteen years, we’ll make the memories. We’ll float the river and eat the ice cream and watch the fireworks. We’ll chase the fireflies and can the tomatoes and split the watermelons on the back porch.

We’ll forget our umbrellas and dance in the rain.

Originally posted by The Elberton Star and The Northeast Georgian, June 2017.

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2 thoughts on “18 Summers Slipping Through My Fingers

  1. Just delightfully written, Lindsey. Had the same ambivalent feelings raising my own kids. My first eighteen summers have passed. Starting a new set with the next generation. Not quite the same, but it does afford some compensation for the summers now gone.

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  2. That was beautiful! This brought me to tears. The time goes by so very fast! I am like you, I wish I could give them every day. I wish that time would just slow down a little. For one child, my 18 summers are gone. I do not really know where they went. We do not get the time back. We must be in the moment…now!

    Thank you and Blessings,
    Amy

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