A group of moms hurried in to preschool pickup, many of us lugging younger siblings, scaling the stairs to the classroom with careful hurry. One mother turned toward the group and said, “I can’t believe there’s only one more month left in the school year. I’m dreading having the kids home all summer.” Other moms talked about camps and drop-off activities. I nodded along, careful not to interject my own feelings for fear they wouldn’t be well received. We’re new in town, and I don’t have the luxury of ticking off a group of potential new friends. Then, another mother said, “Someday we’ll have our summers back,” and I felt a lump in my throat.
I gathered my kids, walked to the car, and cried like a baby.
Maybe I’m naïve. After all, I’m only four years into this parenting gig. But when I think about having the summers to myself someday, I feel like I could die. I cannot WAIT to have my kid home with me all summer. I cannot wait to not have to drag both kids out the door to preschool dropoff. I cannot wait to give up our set schedule for a few months. I cannot wait to enjoy my hilarious, smart, sometimes-frustrating 4-year-old all summer. I can. not. wait.
I work hard to make summers special for my kids. But when I think about the bigger picture, I’m actually doing it for ME. I only get 18 summers with them at home. Only 18 summers as the mom they NEED for every little thing — the mom with the job of carting them around and entertaining them and soaking up every single second of their littleness. Only 18 summers of wading in the lake, cleaning sand off of every darn surface of the house, running barefoot across a hot driveway toward the ice cream truck. Only 18 summers of slathering wiggly kids in sunblock, of trouncing through the farmers market together, of attending sports games and taking trips to the Cape. Only 18 summers of wet hugs and the smell of their sweaty little heads. Only 18 summers.
To me, having the summers to myself someday means my job here is done. This job… this big, huge, life-affirming job that I so wanted and so appreciate. I see it as a huge privilege and an absolute choice to be home with them every day. This is the biggest and most important work I will ever do. And it’s also what I want to do.
I have never wanted to be anything other than a mother. So 18 summers just isn’t enough.
I could go on, but I’m off to plan an awesome summer at home with my two boys. For them, but for me, too. I have to make the most of it… I only have 14 summers left with my firstborn.