Summer Summer Summer

Summer is upon us in full force, it seems. I guess I should feel lucky that it is nearly the end of July, and I am only just now feeling the heat. But man! I am really feeling it over the last couple of weeks. We had a few days in the low 80s this past week, and I found myself reveling in how cool and refreshing it felt. How sad is that? I’ll tell you: S.A.D. Extremely so.

Remember how I talked at length a few years ago about not being a fan of Spring? Yep. You can lump Summer in there, too. I am not a Summer person. I never have been. I don’t enjoy the beach. I don’t love lounging by the pool. I don’t sunbathe. Not that anyone really can sunbathe any more, but I never did it even back when we still had ozone. I’m so pasty-white that I’m practically invisible. Seriously. I bet I could get sunburned from looking at a picture of the sun. I’ve never been a big fan of participating in Summer sports. When school was out for the Summer, I was that strange kid who was looking forward to reading all day long.

After becoming a Mom, I found myself looking forward to Summer more than ever, especially after my daughter started school. Summer was “Mommy time”, meaning it was my time to spend with my sweet little girl without the interruption of school or homework or projects or lessons or after school activities. It was a time to read stories together, take walks in the evening, and just generally slow down. During the school year, it was like my daughter belonged to the whole world. But she was all mine for the Summer.

Summer this year should have been more of the same, but doubled. My daughter is going into her senior year of high school, so this is pretty much my last chance at a “Mommy time” Summer. I should have been looking forward to walks and talks and going to movies together and all the things.

But, of course, this Summer is not at all like any Summer that has come before it. And y’all know why: The ‘Rona. It’s like my brain was so busy trying to catch up with the reality of life within the pandemic that I wasn’t mentally ready for Summer at all. It’s like I had no idea Summer even existed until it was upon us in all of its sweltering, sizzling glory. I know that sounds goofy. How could I not know Summer was coming? Of course, I knew it was out there. It’s just that everyday life has been physically and mentally exhausting since Spring. It’s almost like time stopped completely when we went into social-distance-at-home-quarantine back in March. I know the outside world has continued to turn. But the things that were touchstones for me have all stopped because we seldom leave our house. I feel like I went to sleep one night in the crisp Spring coolness of a March evening and woke up to find myself in the midst of a sizzling July day. It’s disconcerting.

Has this last Mommy Summer been a total bust? No. Not at all. Because, amid the anxiety and worry and mask wearing and cleaning off groceries and staying at home … In and around all of that, the little moments of life continue on. I’ve had evening walks with my daughter. We have binged anime together. We share popcorn every evening. We have hung out in her room and talked. There have been so many fabulous talks. I love hearing my daughter’s opinions and thoughts on things. I have learned a lot this Summer, and I have realized something pretty fantastic. There is an amazing, kind, and wise young woman standing where my little girl of yesterday used to be. And you know what? I think that might make this the best Summer yet.

I Might be Odd …

First things first, I’m sitting here wondering if I should have capitalized the word “be” in my blog post title. I am doing a quick mental run-down of what I remember of the rules for capitalization and punctuation, and drawing a total blank. I also think this will likely haunt me for the rest of the evening. Or perhaps I should say early morning, since it’s almost 2 AM in my corner of the universe.

Anyhow …

Back to the topic at hand. I am getting *that* feeling — you know the one: the sinking feeling of doom that seems to bungee from your head right down to your toes and tells you that the thing you’re thinking, which you most certainly don’t want to be true, really is true. Yeah. THAT feeling. And I am confident you all managed to hang in there and interpret my rambling, stream-of-consciousness, run-on sentence. Because you are all intelligent and wonderful people. And I am certain you will also forgive me for said rambling sentence, too. Because, as already mentioned, you are wonderful people. And also because it’s almost 2 in the blessed AM, and I should be asleep. Or, at the very least, tucked into bed happily playing Hay Day on my iPad.

Texas Sunset

But I am not asleep … Or playing Hay Day. (Why is that game so darn addictive, anyhow? I blame the pigs. Seriously. Those pigs are hella cute.)

A few weeks ago, my husband told me, in response to me bemoaning the death of my latest beloved Logitech DeNovo keyboard (which, by the way, the company no longer manufactures), “I think you should switch to a mechanical keyboard. I think it’s the only way you are going to end up with a keyboard that will make you happy. And that will last.” This might seem like a strange sort of conversation for two married people to have. Or maybe it doesn’t. We’ve certainly had stranger. But the idea that my husband was spending his valuable free time (and probably some of his work time, too) considering my keyboard needs gave me a serious case of the warm & fuzzies. Because that’s love, folks. If you have a mate who considers your computing needs, you need to hang on to them for dear life. At any rate, I had never considered a mechanical keyboard or the benefits of mechanical vs. regular keyboards. And so I simply replied as most dutiful wives would. I said, “Yes, Dear.” And went along my merry way, not giving the matter another thought. Tonight, though, the whole mechanical vs. regular debate came home to roost in a very big way — in the form of my very own, mechanical keyboard.

And so, I am sitting here in my little office typing away and feeling giddily excited over one of the best Mother’s Day presents I have ever received. This keyboard is beyond awesome. It’s in the realm of “Flipping Fantastic”, and you guys know I don’t use those words lightly. It has the perfect push and release action, and that wonderfully “clicky” noise  I love so much. Seriously, I love the noise this thing makes. But, as if that wasn’t enough … The dang thing lights up like the console of a space cruiser. I can set it to different modes, my favorite one being where the lights ripple across the board whenever I press a key. I say “I” can set it, but, in reality, the only person in my household who knows how the darn thing works is my 11-year old daughter. But whatever. So long as I have light ripples, I am a happy, happy woman. And there is a light-up snake on the space bar.

A Light Up Snake.

nyc-street5-sm

Can we just take a moment or two to let the pure awesomeness of this tidbit sink in?

Yeah. I don’t even like snakes. At all. But I love this feature. Plus, I (meaning my daughter) can set the snake to light up in blue. Blue!!! This is so far beyond amazing that I don’t even know what it is. I’m not sure there are words to describe the level of brain-gasm I am experiencing at this moment.

Which brings me back around to my initial premise: I think I may be a little bit odd. I could have had jewelry for Mother’s Day. Or flowers. Or perfume. But, instead, the little girl who lives in my brain is squealing her heart out over a keyboard. A clicky keyboard with a light up snake on the space bar. EEEEEK!

As my husband loves to say, “It is what it is.” Which, actually, I don’t even know what that means. Of course the thing is whatever it is. What else would it be? And yet, the saying seems oddly appropriate at this moment.

Letting Go

I think the hardest thing about being a parent is learning how to let go. It seems like it would be an easy thing, particularly since children tend to suck up a lot of time, effort, and energy. I remember, when my daughter was a tiny baby, there were so many things I looked forward to: the time when she could finally talk and tell me what was bothering or upsetting her … the time when diapers would be a distant memory … the time when she would finally eat only “regular” food … the time when she would be big enough to explore and interact with her surroundings … and on and on.

my daughter ... around 6 months old, perhapsBack then, when she was still tiny and relied on me for everything — when she, literally, couldn’t go anywhere without me — I thought about the future with a sort of misty-eyed fondness. I thought about how it would be so nice to have more free time. I thought about how it would be much less stressful, once she could tell me what was bothering her, as opposed to trying to interpret various cries of distress. I thought about how nice it would be once I no longer had to carry that heavy diaper bag around. I thought about how lovely it would be to save on the expense of baby food, once she started eating the same things the rest of us ate.

I thought about a lot of things.

my daughter's beautiful smile, ~ 6 years oldWhat I didn’t think about was how hard — how absolutely terrifying — it would be for me to let go. I didn’t realize each new adventure and experience would take her a little farther away from me, along her path toward becoming a teenager and, eventually, an adult. I didn’t think about how I was going to feel, for example, standing on the curb and watching her walk into school the first day of second grade: the first time she told me, “No, Mama. I can go by myself.” I didn’t realize how frightening it was to be the person left behind. Sometimes, I feel like I spent nine months working to bring her into this world, and I will spend the entire rest of her life fighting the urge to stuff her back inside my uterus. Because, once your kids are out there, they are out there. They are part of the world, and you can’t always be with them.

my daughter getting donutsToday, my daughter headed off to Philadelphia for a school field trip. She has been excited about this trip for months, and she was bubbling over with enthusiasm and eagerness this morning. This is the first time, since she started pre-school, that I have not gone as one of the chaperones. And, over the week or so leading up to this trip, I came to realize my biggest fears as a parent are letting go and not being there. Perhaps, they really are the same fear, just all wrapped around each other. I don’t know, but I do know it took a monumental effort for me to smile this morning, kiss my daughter good-bye, and drive away from the school. I looked back and saw her standing on the sidewalk in front of the school, chattering excitedly with her friends and teacher, and felt like some invisible hand had reached into my chest and wrapped my heart in a vice-like squeeze. If I had been alone, I might not have been able to leave. Luckily, my husband was driving, which meant I didn’t have the option of turning around to snatch her up and run for the safety of home.

my daughter with snowBut I have this to cling to:

As I was telling her good-bye, she whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry, Mama. I’ll tell you all about it when I get home tonight.”

And so I drove away feeling unsure and inadequate, but also knowing I don’t have to learn how to let go all at one time. For now, this is enough, and the rest will come. Baby steps, which will teach me how to walk before I have to know how to run.