It’s a familiar scenario: Dad is running up and down the aisles at the local office supplies store accompanied by two surly pre-teens set to the tune, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” It starts every year around August and continues until Labor Day. I hated the commercial as a kid and I hate it even more now as a mom.
As a stay at home mom of three girls I don’t know who is dreading the end of summer more, me or my kids.
For me, summer means freedom. We can spend the day at the beach basking in the sun, afternoon bath time and after dinner walks. My kids still wake up with the sun, but instead of the morning rush, we can snuggle until hunger forces us out of bed. Days are longer and offer more hours to spend together. Bedtimes can stretch for movie night or a camp fire, but usually come early because of hours swimming in a pool, lake or plastic turtle in the yard.
The school year takes my oldest daughter away from me for six and a half hours every day, with a morning rush leaves me rushed and short tempered. Getting three girls under five dressed, fed and to school before nine a.m., (walking on a good day, a rushed ride in our minivan most days) is a task that while seemingly impossible, has to be completed five days a week.
As much as the logistics of the morning suck, it’s nothing compared to the way I miss my daughter. I find myself much busier during the school year, if only to serve as a distraction. I know if I let myself long for snuggle mornings or conversations of older sister bossiness where every character and action of their make believe world is dictated by her, it would be too hard to take her every day. As is, last year I found myself signing her out of her school often, for surprise trips to the zoo or visits with her great grandparents. Justifying my actions that she was only three, then only four; but soon she will be five and then six. During a recent walk home from the beach her littlest sister was lagging behind so she picked her up and carried her along the path.
“I look just like a mommy,” she said. No, just way too grown-up, I thought.
The hardest part about being a parent isn’t the sleep deprivation; it’s letting go. It’s waking up one day and your baby is about to be five years old, and taking yet another step towards adulthood.
Slow down summer, if only for me. I need to cherish these last few warm days and long nights. Make memories and shed a few tears. I know I won’t be ready for September but it’s coming for me any way. Just like the stupid commercial.