A long time ago, on a rainy summer evening, my brother and I broke out of our bedrooms to jump in puddles and chase each other through the drizzle. It’s a favorite memory–we were supposed to be grounded for arguing with each other, but we somehow convinced my parents to let us go outside for a few fun minutes.
It was spontaneous. And that was summer.
Recently, the well-meaning post about savoring our children’s first 18 summers has been making the rounds again. It’s aptly titled “We Only Have 18 Summers Together with Our Kids.” Cue the tears, the bucket lists, and impossible standards.
It names simple summer activities like s’mores and fireflies, but I get the feeling that I’m supposed to be an event planner while also being a parent. It’s a lot of pressure on moms who already have way too much pressure.
I treasure the time I have with my daughter. She’s two years old, and she’s the center of my universe. Even so, something doesn’t sit well about boiling down our time together as 18 sunny seasons.
Try me again in 15 years, but right now, I’m just not into it.
First of all, 18 summers is a stretch. My kiddo was a newborn during her first summer, and I had postpartum depression. I consider that one a lost cause. And she’s not going to want to talk to me from ages 14-18, so those are gone. I think that leaves me with 13 summers. Wish me luck.
Then, try to imagine a mom from the 1960s saying it. She wouldn’t. Ever. She was too busy telling her kids to be home before the street lights turned on. Or Else. She wanted to raise kids who were independent and most importantly, out of her hair. She wasn’t responsible for their every happiness and magical memory. That must have been nice.
Also, am I dying? Something about that post makes me feel like I only have 18 summers–in general. My life is my daughter right now, but someday, my life will be my own again. Summer nights and ice cream cones will still be sweet, even though they will be quiet.
My daughter needs me to be present, engaged, and ideally, feeding her dinner throughout all of the seasons. She needs me to listen, to encourage, and to get out of her way. She needs me to be her mother–not her best friend, at least not always.
She’s going to get plenty of pool time and trips to the playground this year. And I know she’ll grow up much too soon, waving as she rides her bike to a friend’s house and then driving with the windows down. This time is fleeting–all of it is. But I can’t buy into only 18 summers.