I count summers now. I didn’t begin counting them until I survived all the summers that involved me and at least one child of potty-training age, but now that I have a kid in high school with two others on her heels, I hover over the number as it grows smaller.
I have three summers left with all my chicks in the nest. Three summers before it empties by one, and the memories we made as a family of five shift into something entirely different. Three summers before I must rely on snapshots of summers past–days filled with ice cream and gangly limbs and piles of flip-flops at the back door. As I count, I fill the gallery wall of my heart with their shouts echoing across the water and wet towels making mountains on the washing machine. I tuck away snapshot after snapshot of them begging for one more tv show, one more scoop, one more hour of play before a late night tuck-in.
Now that I count summers, I want to make them count. I want the snapshots to hang all over the walls of my kids’ hearts too. In an attempt at making our third to last summer a memorable one, I experienced a fit of temporary insanity, and registered each of my kids in multiple sports and other sundry camps. This ensures I spend the better part of each day shuffling one or the other of them around, while leaving at least one kid at home, so I must simultaneously monitor/argue over/impose limits on their screen time while also on chauffeur duty.
I don’t know why I thought over-scheduling my kids made summer count, unless we’re counting all the ways I will come unhinged on a weekly basis. While my best laid plans may keep us on the move, I also plan to make time for sticky days and sunshine and teaching someone in this house how to use a washing machine. We’ll ride bikes and argue and eat too many pancakes for dinner. Reading will not be optional, but neither is the ice cream.
As we close in on the final days of school and the slide into summer, can I give you a little nudge? Cover the gallery wall of your heart with the magic and mayhem, the incredible and the insignificant.
Make your summers count, point and click.