End of summer melancholy struck me a few days ago. We’ve had visitors in from out of town for the last couple of weeks but now everyone has gone back home and suddenly I’m less than a week away from Eva going back to school. She’ll be gone all day, which means we’re about to enter the first time in her life where she won’t be with me for most of her day and a week or so after that Calvin will try preschool again at a new facility and a relative quiet will settle on the house.
This also means that the last bit of sand is running out of our summer hourglass and, sadly, the vast bulk of what I hoped to do with the kids over the last three months went undone (again). June was eaten by moving into a new house, July scorched Utah and made going out impossible for most days, and August has been a wonderful blur of playing host to family. It wasn’t a bad summer or an empty summer (the opposite, in fact) but we didn’t picnic up the canyon. We didn’t go downtown to see the capitol building. We didn’t make clay bead necklaces. We didn’t see the sunset over the lake. We didn’t make our own ice cream. And a million other “we didn’ts” with empty checklist boxes in my journal…
I’ll be honest, I use those lists to measure whether or not I’m a good mom. Stayed inside the grocery budget for the month? Check. Finished the top 50 picture books for five year olds? Check. Visited all of the playgrounds in a ten mile radius? Check. It’s tangible proof that I’m doing something on the days when I feel like it was an all-day sprint that accomplished nothing. So to have most of our summer list remain undone does make me feel like I left our summer undone. Like I wasted it, one of the few summers we’ll have as a family with young kids.
And then again –
So many of the things that make summer precious aren’t things that are locked into those three months. Fall is a great time to make ice cream, what with all that pumpkin spice floating around. I love going up the canyon when the leaves change and picnics in Autumn are less likely to leave us sweaty and wiped out. The capitol building will still be there when the snow falls and I bet clay bead necklaces would be a fun project to finish near the holidays now that the kids are old enough to start making presents for everyone. And other things will be planned and not done and the kids will get older and there’s nothing I can do about that, but it’s exciting, actually, to think about all of those unchecked boxes we have to look forward to.
There are things in the world that I wish for. Larger things…things so large that wishing for them sometimes feels hopeless and exhausting and so heavy, especially when the news outlets fall over themselves bringing the next terrible headline. I have, a few times this year, wished myself into a practical paralysis, where I don’t feel like we can do anything or that anything can change because it’s all gone so wrong from how I wanted it to go. But you know, there are things to look forward to. Stuff that feels crushing now will be the stuff we talk about overcoming later. This is just a season.