Why I'm not cheering the end of summer

Posted August 18, 2016

Summer is winding to an end, and school is right around the corner. The evidence is everywhere as bubbles and barbecue aisles give way to Halloween decorations because it’s August, and clearly that's the ideal time to begin binge-buying pumpkin décor. But that’s a rant for another time.

This rant is about the end of summer. It happens every year, even though it seems like long, lazy summer days will never end when I’m looking from the end-of-school parties in May. The summer stretches out in front of me like a happy reward for all my months of being an adult. I volunteer in the classroom, make lunches and do grown-up things like parent-teacher conferences all year long.

So when summer comes, I play. And when summer starts to end, I always feel like it’s too soon.

Sure, there are some pluses to the start of school, such as not having to arbitrate one more ridiculous fight among my children or reminding them that their new little brother “can’t breathe in hugs that tight.” After three months of family bonding and sibling rivalry, a school day does seem like a welcome reprieve.

So while I understand the feeling of excitement for a little more routine and little less togetherness, like in this hilarious video from the Holderness family, I don’t quite share the excitement that the summer is nearly over.

Instead, I’m looking at the calendar and having a mild panic attack. Did we do everything on our summer bucket list? Did we really squeeze out every ounce of summer fun before we head back to the races? Back to cleaning out lunch boxes with questionable food remains because they’ve been left in the car for a week. Back to waking up early and hurrying out the door. Back to taking deep breaths in the kiss-and-ride line as other mothers forget basic driving skills.

There’s no escaping it: Going back to school means saying goodbye to summer days. Goodbye to spontaneous stops at the snow cone stand. Goodbye to long afternoons at the pool. Goodbye to being in charge of our day because there are no meetings, no practices, no bells.

Because in the summer, there's just time — together.

Perhaps that’s why summer days are so glorious — time seems to stand still. For three months, I reclaim my children.

And when that opening bell rings on the first day of school, it shatters my time-free bubble. The school year ushers in a new grade, new milestones and a new reminder that my children’s childhoods are racing by.

Starting on that first day of school, I have to give my children back to time with its relentless, unforgiving pace. It sweeps us up in its all-encompassing forward motion, barely letting us take a breath until Christmas. We are, once again, at the mercy of the clock, rushing to be on time, make the most of our time and finish on time. Time rules our schedules, and our schedules rule us.

So yes, I am excited for some quiet around here, but I know when the hush does settle on my house, I will long for those infinite summer days when all time demanded of us was to spend it together.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her 9-year-old and 6-year-old daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her.


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