Its 6:45pm on the last night of summer. The kids and I have devoured our dinner, complete with personal sized apple pies to commemorate the occasion. Now it’s time to hop on our bikes. After the 300th argument about wearing helmets, we are all off; four in a row. James on his new green machine, skidding across the pavement. Renee races off with a slight scowl below her helmet. Cara is behind them on the 2 wheeler she mastered a few weeks ago. I take up the rear so that I can keep eyes on my people. I vigilantly watch for cars, encourage stragglers, and shout directions to the front of the line. My motley little crew loops around the neighborhood like they own the place; less cautious and more confident than they should be. Near the end of the ride we pass by the park. Of course they want to stop and play. I sigh, make a time calculation, bargain with the fading light, and acquiesce. After all, it is still summer.
The kids ride across the grass, lay a patch on the sidewalk and fling their bikes to the ground mid-path. I take a seat on the bench and watch them joyfully run from one apparatus to another. This buys me a few moments to reflect on our summer. We have a lengthy list of best laid plans and wishes on our refrigerator. A white board full of lofty hopes and dreams for all the different ways to spend a summers day. Many activities on the list are crossed off and a good many aren’t. I start the mental tally in my head.
We went on hikes, played in streams, and stomped in puddles. We slept in late, and often got up early, stayed up late, and tried not rush around. We also bowled, biked, painted, and gamed. This summer we took our first road trip as a family of four; slept in two hotels and spent precious time with family. We went to the mountains, rode the alpine slide, and splurged on over-priced pictures. Many afternoons we sat outside and enjoyed a popsicle as it dripped down arms and faces. We hung out with friends, swam at the pool all day, watched movies and colored countless pictures.
And then I move to other side of the list. We had our days of fighting and bickering; time-outs and pinching, name-calling and hitting. Tempers flared, brows bent and patience thinned. We had nights of no stories, short words and slammed doors. There were days of cleaning, errands, exhaustion, and no fun at all. I try to count them up; to remember how many times I blew it.
I wonder, was it enough? Did I provide them with enough experiences, enough carefree days, enough joy, enough show-and-tell worthy adventures? Was that my job? In the pit of my stomach a knot forms, wishing I had more time. Perhaps if I could have a few more weeks I could fit more in. Maybe then I could improve my list and have more to show for myself and what I accomplished. Yet I know the days have come and gone. I know that it is time for school and I am ready for school and given a few more weeks I would probably add to the wrong side of that tally. I watch my kids laugh and shout as they swing as high as they possibly can. I don’t know if it was enough, but I hope it was. I sigh deeply and note that the light is fading. It’s time to ride home. We need to hurry up and read stories, pack lunches and get to bed. Summer is over.