Summer is upon us and my mind is already whirling with all the exciting plans I’m going to do with my toddler. We’re going to go to the zoo, and the beach, and I want to see his face the first time he sees a firefly.
I want a chance to enjoy the warm, humid summer nights together, so I’m already planning on letting him stay up just a little late (only a few times), so we can eat an ice cream cone together and laugh and play under the moonlight.
A friend said something the other day that made me pause. She said something like, “When you think about it, we only have 18 summers together with our kids.” And my heart dropped.
My son is already two, so I quickly thought I only have 17 summers left.
Seventeen summers together as a family. To vacation together. Stick our toes in the sand and splash water on each other at the beach.
Seventeen summers to enjoy lazy Sundays. To doze on the couch in the sticky, sweaty days of August, or to run through sprinklers to battle the heat.
Seventeen summers of childhood, of the time earmarked for us as a guarantee under one household. Where we grow up together, instead of apart, and where we’ll create all the memories he’ll hopefully look back fondly on, one day.
Seventeen summers to go exploring. Have adventures and discover new places, even if they’re just in our town or our own home state.
Seventeen summers of backyard BBQs, corn on the cob, sliced watermelon and hamburgers.
Seventeen 4th of Julys, with fireworks and camping, hot dog buns and splashing in the pool.
Seventeen summers where he’s exclusively mine. Before he becomes an adult and strikes out on his own, searching for and hopefully finding his ‘people’—his best friends who will feel like family.
Seventeen summers for road trips, airplane rides, feeling like tourists and getting lost in a new place.
Seventeen summers of carnival rides, lemonade, cotton candy and s’mores.
Seventeen summers of sunscreen, mosquito bites, park picnics and hiking through the woods.
Seventeen summers before he grows up, moves out and creates a life of his own. Where he may spend whole summers away, exploring the world with friends or a partner, and sending home postcards to fill us in on his adventures.
I don’t want to mourn something I haven’t even lost yet, but I do realize how fleeting this time is. And since I can’t hit pause and make it last just a little bit longer, I will try to enjoy and be present in each moment as we have them.
Because all too quickly, two turns to 10, turns to 15, turns to, “I promise I’ll call you, Mama.”
So while we have these days together, we’ll laugh and sing and stay up too late and camp in the backyard. We’ll turn off our cellphones and spend our days outside, and enjoy the time we have together. Because we still have 17 summers together. And that’s a lot.
[This was originally published May 25, 2018]