When I was a kid I loved loved loved summer. My family didn’t take the exotic vacations the way some do today, but that was ok. One year we did drive to North Dakota, but that was not nearly as glamorous as I’m sure it sounds.
To me, summers meant no school, no getting up early, reading for pleasure, and hours upon hours of playing and swimming in my best friend’s pool. When we started swimming each year, it was so cold we would wear sweatshirts over our bathing suits as we swam to “keep us warm”. To our credit we figured out very quickly that it didn’t work.
Have you heard of Jacques Cousteau? He was a French oceanographer who traveled the world exploring underwater sites. And every summer 2 little girls in Winston-Salem, NC, pretended like they were him and his crew all summer long. They found treasures and sunken ships in a 4 ft. deep above-ground-pool.
As I got older, summer still meant no school, but it meant I could work more hours at my part-time job at Hinkle’s Bookstore. (I’m sure you can guess where most of my paycheck went.) Summer was mostly just a break or change in my routine.
Do you remember the first summer you were out of school and working at a “real job”? The shock of the work continuing and not halting for June, July, and August was mind boggling. We should’ve known then that adulting was going to be slightly less than fun.
Somewhere along the way summer became very different. It has always been my busiest time at work, which is wrong on so many levels, but Madi was also out of school and wanting to do fun stuff like go swimming and play mermaid. Paul does a beautiful Ursula impression from The Little Mermaid by the way. The other thing, maybe the most important thing, is the schedule shift. For many many years I have worked 9 months of the year starting work at 3:00 pm and working till 9:30 pm; then summer hits, and I’m at work by 9:00 am.
By the end, or close to the end, of the season I am stressed to the max. I always know when I hit that level of pressure because I clean, and I’m talking about cleaning the top-of-the-refrigerator-type cleaning. But by then I can hang on because I know things will be back to normal soon.
This year things are different. I had been cleaning already, and it was not even July yet. I couldn’t figure it out. Why is everything so different this year? Madi’s home. She’s gone a lot because she’s working but that’s not it. Then last night she yelled downstairs in an excited voice telling us that she had purchased a one-way ticket to London leaving September 2.
And there it was. It’s not the summer itself that’s bothering me; it’s what happens at the end of summer. Our job as parents has been to teach her to be independent, to fly the nest. Well, I guess we’ve accomplished our objectives then. But instead of celebrating a job well done, I’m left realizing I had no idea how hard this part of the job would be.