The dog days of summer are upon us and, every now and then, as I use my fingertips to swipe hair from one of my sons’ eyes or smooth sunscreen over their cheekbones, I feel a small pang at the admission that the much-anticipated carefree summer season is already nearly over. The long sun-drenched days that are anchored by cannonballs and swimsuits are soon to be traded in for homework calendars and uniform pullovers adorned with monogrammed school logos.
Despite the knack my rambunctious, action-oriented crew has for running me ragged during lengthy stretches of summer freedom, I don’t feel ready to relinquish them back to the school system just yet. Nevertheless, being the chronic optimist that I (typically) am, I know that I will adjust accordingly. I will choose to focus on all of the good that will accompany the back-to-school whirlwind that is heading my way:
The excitement of meeting new teachers and embarking on a fresh school year with a clean slate for all. The ripe opportunities for my children to make new friends, set new goals and learn new things. The fact that a return to a schedule and a predictable routine will nurture my Type-A nature. The opportunity to indulge in extra time with my younger sons during the school day. Joining my sons for the occasional schoolhouse lunch-date shared over paper cartons of chocolate milk. The simple satisfaction of tagging along on field trips and the revival of childhood enthusiasm that permeates back-to school festivals. Add to that sizeable list the fact that fall will be just around the corner- bringing with it football games and the potential for bonfires and breezy family camping trips and all together the whole prospect starts to sounds rather appealing after all.
But today, I’m not ready to embrace the upside of the impending academic year. I will relish these last few weeks of summer leisure with my sons (in between bouts of the inevitable sibling rivalry and the fatigue-induced whining that sometimes follow hours of pool time). For now, I will reside in this one particular sweet spot of denial: the thought that my children belong to me in the first place. I’m confident that one day soon, as I experience this phenomenon of motherhood, I will wholly adopt the sacred truth that they are merely on loan to me from their Creator, daily stretching towards eventual independence. In the meantime, each year when the first day’s school bell rings and I walk back to my SUV will fresh pictures on my camera’s SD card and a fresh lump in my throat, I know that I am one year closer to the days when even their summers will not belong to me.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:17
“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3