I was sitting out on a restaurant patio today and I felt it: The undeniable hint of fall riding on an almost-crisp breeze. I looked up at the sky and shuddered with a tinge of sorrow. Summer is heaving its last breath for the year.

Now, if you know me, you know winters have become synonymous with… well, to put it boldly, torture. Yes, I am that dramatic. Something about the negative degree temps, inhumane windchills, childhood colds, and the disappearance of grass and sun for months on end is honestly wretchedly tortuous. But this year, while I am dreading the inevitable winterpocalypse that is ready to afflict us all, my tinge of sorrow is actually rooted in another cause altogether.

Before summer began, I read a piece online about how we realistically (Lord willing) have 18 summers with our children while they are living under our roof. Only eighteen. Meaning, with my oldest, I’m already down to 11. Eleven summers. That seems like an absurdly low number, as if that could not possibly be correct.

I don’t remember a ton of my childhood. Not because I had some horrific childhood that I blocked out, but because truthfully I think I may just be losing intelligence and brain cells at an alarming rate due to pregnancy, childbirth, and the delightful stresses of parenting. I’m only half-joking. But the childhood memories I do have largely surround the summers I spent with my family. Weekends spent at the ball fields for baseball and softball. Lighting off fireworks on the huge sledding hill across the street from our house. Almost setting each other ablaze with said fireworks. Trolling the neighborhood pool for my childhood crush. Almost drowning in said pool whilst trolling for said crush.

So, when I think of summertime now through my children’s eyes, I’m wondering, what will they remember? Will they recall their summers with such nostalgia, too?

It was this line of thinking and the alarming realization that I only have 11 summers left with my daughter, that led me to try to make every effort to construct the most glorious summer for my children these past few months. I had plans. I had a loose schedule of things we would do. It was going to be magical. In an attempt to stay academic, I even said we’d have a “library day.”

But, then I was eight months pregnant. Then, I was nine months. Then, it was 99 degrees. Then, there were gnats and mosquitoes of Moses’ plague-time proportions. Then, I had a baby.

Needless to say, my plans quickly unraveled. My “loose” schedule became looser to the point of non-existent. And I am still to this day getting texts from Siouxland Libraries that our books are overdue from our one library day we did back in May.

So, instead of well-scheduled and well-planned days, our summer involved the opposite.  We took the kids to the pool on the hottest days. But the other days, I would send the kids outside and they hunted for frogs. They caught lightning bugs in jars. They played with the precious neighbor kids for hours until it was dark. They were dirty all of the time and so was my house. We ate ice cream for dinner upon the advice of our neighbors. We had popsicles every day. We had a hard time getting anywhere by even 11 a.m. because we were all so tired. All summer long we lived schedule-less and messy lives. And all of this, to the soundtrack and incessant watching of The Greatest Showman.

I hugged my daughter on her last night before she began school and asked her “What was your best memory of this summer?” I was feeling a little guilty that we didn’t do more “fun” things because of being pregnant and having a newborn. I was half expecting her to say she was disappointed that we didn’t get around to all the things I told her we were going to do. But instead, she thought about it for a while and finally she said, “All of it. Every day was the best day of my life.”

I was stunned. “Really? What made every day the best?” I pressed.

“It just was, Mommy. I’m serious. It was the best.”

I’m choosing to believe her. Even as the tinge of sorrow creeps in because my summers with her are numbered. I will always joyously recall — and perhaps incessantly remind her when she’s older — that this summer she remembered every day as the best day
of her life. 

Follow Tracy on her blog, littleparentontheprairie.com.

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