We've gotten the school supplies and I've broken up 3,742 arguments about minutiae ("Anna is blocking the air conditioner vent!" "Ethan is doing that weird things in his throat to irritate me!").
We consumed what had to be more than 30 ice cream cones and jumped off the dock into cool Maine water twice that.
We aaaahed at sunsets and slapped at mosquitoes and licked melted marshmallows from our fingers.
I love, love, LOVE summer. And fall. Spring. And I even have a soft spot for winter, when it doesn't drag on endlessly. The seasons are beautiful. It's one of my favorite things about living in New England. The seasons set the pace of our lives; they clearly delineate times of change. They are especially sweet because they don't last.
Summer ending, school starting, leaves every parent I know with mixed emotions. We can't wait to usher them out the door and still want to hold them tight. I'm no exception. Whoever said, about parenting, that the days are long but the years are short was exceptionally wise. Sometimes the only way to get through a day when the house looks as if it's been bombed and everyone's crying is to remember to see life not always through a microscope but rather a telescope. These "long days" with kids and scrapes and tears and homework papers seem bigger than they really are, but the days that feel so far from our grasp, the college dorms and quieter homes and little people turned actual adults are just in front of us, not galaxies removed.
New is exciting. New is scary. This year Ethan is starting a new school. This is his first year as a child who is not a special education student in the school system. Anna is going into seventh grade. That is two years removed from high school. High school! Chloe just missed the cut-off for preschool this year. But this time a year from now she could be going to school every day, too. There are days, yes, that I wish she was. Then of course, there are moments when that seems frightfully close, and I want to keep her right by my side. The littlest.
Every year at this time I smile when someone on social media talks about how they can't believe their baby is an actual preschooler, or is feeling melancholy and amazed that they have a second grader and kindergartner. And while I'd like to think I'm so wise, smiling to myself that their kids really are still so small and they don't even see it, I know someone is looking at me lamenting that my oldest is in MIDDLE SCHOOL and smiling because they just sent their child off to college, or just watched them get married.
The school year starts and there are times I have to fight the fear that I'm sending my kids off to the wolves. There is so much out there! There are moments I won't see. There are times I can't be there to fight every battle; to clarify; to remind. Thinking about this too much can rip your heart out.
So I remember.
I remember the wonderful teachers they've been blessed to have, and a school system where staff want to move the world for you if you show you care, that you want to be involved in your child's education.
I remember that if I keep talking with my kids, if I keep listening, if I am discerning and wise, I will learn more and more about those moments and interactions I don't always see.
I remember I can fight for them and surround them with my prayers.
I remember that my kids are ultimately NOT mine, and I can give them back to God in those moments when I know I can't do everything right, can't know everything, can't protect them from everything.
It's something -- it's everything.
Then I can flip the calendar and feel that jittery excitement that comes with fresh notebooks and new outfits and crisp mornings. It's a new season. Time to plunge into the adventure.