It’s the first day of summer. Oh, sweet summer.
I have written about this season so many times. Unsurprisingly, the first time I blogged about summer, I wrote about a boy. It was an entry in my long-dormant LiveJournal, which shall remain a secret to save my 30-year-old self the embarrassment of my 18-year-old self’s whiny drivel. Anyway, the entry was about a boy, and the summer of freedom most teenagers experience between high school and college. One chapter closed, another yet to begin. That summer was a blank slate, and I filled it with a denim skirt (Abercrombie, Holla!) and dusty feet in cheap flip-flops, dancing to Kenny Chesney at a bonfire party. I filled it with an impromptu camping trip with a boy I’d met at said party, jumping off bridges into an icy river, drinking Smirnoff ice and relishing Bud Light-flavored kisses (ew) like only a good girl in a bad boy phase can. I filled it with driving over Snoqualmie pass at sunset with every window rolled down and Tim McGraw’s greatest hits at full volume, sunburned and certain life couldn’t get any better. And inevitably, I filled the last days of that summer nursing a broken heart…like only a good girl in a bad boy phase can.
I’m not sure where he is. Last I heard he still lives in that small town and is marrying his long-time love. If I ever run into him, I’ll be sure to thank him for that summer. Though I could have done without the heartbreak, everyone needs one summer in this life to be a little reckless and free, or at least to believe that they are.
Every summer since that one has been different. It was the last summer in which I wasn’t attending school, working, or both. But every summer, no matter what, I find myself driving with the windows down and the sunroof open. The summers since 2004 have held adventures and heartbreaks of their own, both decidedly missing the innocence of a simple summer romance. June 2008 marked my graduation from college. August 2009 saw my best college friend moving to China, and though we’re still in touch and both SO happy, I haven’t seen her since. In July 2011 another close friend passed away at the age of 26. In August 2012, I took a backpacking trip with my now-husband and some of our closest friends—an experience I still count as one of the coolest things I’ve done. In August of 2014 I learned that my first real, grown-up love had taken his own life.
And on July 29, 2015, Sadie Lorraine burst into our family; Screaming, squirming, perfect.
Summer, you haven’t changed a bit. But I have.
I’m learning that as a parent, you get to experience so much of life over again through a new set of eyes. An older, wiser, squintier set, but a fresh perspective nonetheless. When you’re young, every summer seems like it’ll last forever, just like every romance along the way. You can stay up late and sleep in, and eat whatever you want because you have the metabolism and energy level of a Hummingbird on Mountain Dew. When you’re young, summer is swim meets with your events scrawled on your arms in Sharpie. It’s going to camp and inner-tubing without fear of death, executing what you’re pretty sure is the world’s most graceful dive into the lake, and finishing the day with a hot dog and popsicle, both containing ingredients you couldn’t pronounce. It’s talking to your friends for hours (about what? WHAT did we talk about?) on your purple cordless phone, and catching up on the many episodes of The Price is Right you’d missed during the school year. It’s vacations with your parents, which may have seemed lame at the time, but you’d give anything to do them over again now. I can remember a lot from the autumns, winters, and springs of my childhood, but summer memories are still and will always be the most vibrant.
And now, with a plastic inflatable pool and a swim diaper, it begins again. I get to watch my girl experience it all. Hopefully I can show her that this season (like all good things) is best enjoyed unattached to a screen. Watching your child experience what you remember so fondly is very much like reliving it, with one crucial difference: This time around I know how fast it goes, and that every summer does come to an end. While I can’t say I look forward to the day she meets a boy with tattoos or drinks Smirnoff Ice, I hope she savors every single summer she has between now and then. I know I will.
Sadie, meet summer. Let’s have some fun.