Joco Diversions

Emily Parnell — Maybe we’re finally ready to enjoy whatever summer brings our way

I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this is the last full week of school. Maybe it’s because the family’s parkas are still available at an arm’s length. Or that I haven’t even bothered to get the tubs of summer clothes from the basement. It might have something to do with not being sure that allergy season has even fully begun.

But we’re going through all the motions, and whether or not the air conditioner is whirring, my kids are going to be home. All day. With me.

When they were babies and toddlers, I was a raging mess. Their strong wills pre-dated their communication and reasoning capabilities. My husband worked nights, which meant that I was supposed to keep them relatively quiet by day so he could sleep, and he had to take long naps on Saturdays and Sundays.

I couldn’t turn my back on them for a second, either. They had too many ideas that involved hoses and markers and mud. Scissors were too fascinating, tubes and bottles of anything — too tempting. So I ran around behind them, stopping at frequent intervals for any semblance of adult interaction on social media that I could find and constantly reminded myself that I needed to squeeze any enjoyment out of these temper tantrum-filled days that I could. And yes, some of the temper tantrums were mine, and I just felt stuck in my house — frozen in time.

Most stay-at-home moms who are being honest will tell you, summer has a bitter sweetness to it. We all adore our children, but I do believe there can be too much of a good thing. And my first few summers when it was too sweltering or mosquito-y to shoo them out the back door serve as proof of that.

But last summer, I have to say, something changed. Their school starts in mid-August, and when it came time to drive them to school, I was sad. We’d had a nice summer together and watching them leave me for hours a day was bittersweet in itself.

Maybe the lesson here is that parenting is a bittersweet endeavor. We hold them close, all the while trying to let them go. A child’s demands are taxing, yet all we live for. And they go from separation anxiety — where they can’t bear to be away from our sides — to a fight for independence in the blink of an eye.

It’s hard to tell what this summer will bring. Days at the pool. They can both ride their bikes — I look forward to hitting the trails. Maybe this will be the year we truly establish a daily time to keep up on their studies. Maybe not. I’m sure we’ll have rough patches, we always do.

But it seems we’ve arrived at the age where we can really make the most of our summer. Outings, friends and they’ve earned a wee bit of independence with their trustworthiness. They’re company to me, with wonderful little minds of their own.

So bring it on, Mother Nature, we’re ready for summer here.