I’ve been holding out for some divine inspiration lately, a few life-altering insights to share with the world.
But the truth is this: I don’t have any. The school year has ended, life is unhurriedly unfurling, and nothing earth-shattering has rocked our existence of late.
And you know what? I love it.
I am so grateful for this season of ease. We’re not moving anywhere, we’re not packing or unpacking, we’re not looking for a new house or registering for new schools. We’re not sedating dogs and comforting heartbroken kids. We’re just reveling in a spot where we can sit in the sun, hang out with our friends, and enjoy each other’s company.
It is pure bliss.
The end of the school year is always a welcome respite. We had eighth grade “graduation” late last week. I put that word in quotes because “graduation” and “eighth grade” for my wise and witty girl just don’t go together.
“It’s not graduation,” she says, rolling her eyes. “It’s just the next step. We’re going from eighth grade to ninth grade, from middle school to high school. Big woop. We’re growing up. That’s what we’re SUPPOSED to do. Eighth grade graduation IS NOT A THING.”
She feels as strongly about not calling the end of eighth grade a “graduation” as she does about being able to wear spaghetti straps to school.
“The boys can wear tank tops, but we can’t wear spaghetti straps? It’s total hypocrisy. I’m sorry my shoulders are so alluring to all my male classmates, but I’m HOT. Not sexy-hot, but sweaty-hot. Well, I AM sexy-hot,” she adds, laughing, “But that’s not my point. My point is… THERE’S NO AIR CONDITIONING.”
She’s sassy and spunky and opinionated and funny, and I could not love her more.
It’s a little slice of overwhelm to think that I’ll have three kids in high school next year, that our youngest will be in seventh grade. It is, as Mary Claire so eloquently points out, all part of growing up. That, I understand. I’m just a little taken aback now and then by the rushing sweep of time. This year, it felt like a tidal wave, washing us into unknown territory. As 2014 marches on, we’ll have a senior. An adult. Our oldest will officially be able to vote in the next election, to buy tobacco. We’re encouraging him to vote. We’re not encouraging him to buy tobacco.
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re laying low this summer. We’re spending lazy afternoons floating in the pool, we’re watching movies on the couch, curled up together, avoiding the stench of teenage feet and the nastiness of overgrown toenails in our faces. We’re grilling out and eating on the deck. We’re welcoming friends and family over for long, leisurely weekends.
I’m soaking in all the teenage goodness. Because seriously, I love these teen/tween years. Call me crazy if you will, but I was born to be a parent of teenagers.
Soon enough, our dynamic will change when the oldest packs his bags and takes his wit and his overgrown toenails to college. It will come before we know it, before I’ve fully prepared myself. (If, in fact, preparing myself is something that can actually be accomplished.) I will not let these precious moments (the treasured experiences, not the cherub-faced Hallmark figurines) pass us by.
This summer, I will look at my kids, study their features, memorize their nearly grown-up faces, listen to their jokes, welcome their friends, share their journey, admire the spray of summer freckles across their pink noses, the messy clumps of bedhead they sport in the late mornings. I will continue to learn about and appreciate who they are, who they are becoming, and who they will someday be. I will love them right here and now — in the midst of their angst and irreverence and moodiness and 16-hour sleep sessions.
I will sit with my husband in the glow of the soothing white lights he just engineered, sharing a bottle of wine, nibbling on chips and guacamole. We will talk about work, about life, about the future, about the past, about all that is yet to come while we watch the moonlight dance on the lake. I will remind myself how lucky I am to have this man in my life, the one who loves and supports and encourages and teaches and grounds me. Every single day.
I will finish writing my novel this summer. Finally. After four years and what seems like a mere 4,296 revisions — give or take a few — I will usher my characters into their final iteration, and I will send them out into the world, ready or not.
This life plan does not constitute earth-shattering insight for the masses to share. It is not ushering in an era of world peace or curing cancer. It is not running a multi-million dollar corporation or winning the Pulitzer Prize.
But what this experience is… is mine. It’s ours.
And it is not insignificant, this moment. These wonderful, simple, sun-soaked summer memories in the making.