The Speed of Summer

The Speed of Summer

Nothing like a summer cold to slow you right down, to plop you back into bed allowing you to watch the clouds float by the window above your bed.

Because summer moves much too quickly.

Whether you’re vacationing or your kids travel somewhere without you; whether you’re playing baseball or watching endless baseball games; whether you’re swimming in a pool or an ocean or a lake or your own sweat; whether you’re trying to run outdoors in the heat or indoors on the treadmill or maybe not at all; whether you let the kids stay up late to chase lightning bugs and make S’mores or send them to bed early because omg, sometimes you just need a little peace; whether you’re grilling steaks or grazing on veggie plates or eating sandwiches or going out to dinner; whether you ever catch up on the laundry—or not; whether you make time to see your friends or the busy nature of summer schedules steals them away until fall; whether you have time off or spend your days in an air conditioned cubicle or office; whether you take time to smell the flowers or they given you allergies; whether you’re chasing Pokemon or complaining about others having fun; whether it’s your favorite season or your least, summer speeds right on by.

Right. On. By.

I’m reminded of my late grandmother’s warning about how time only moves faster and faster.

When you’re a teenager, that doesn’t seem to make any sense. Time is a set standard, based on the Earth’s rotation, right? How could it move faster?

And while I run the risk of sounding sappy, I must agree her advice rings true. Maybe not on the hardest days of parenting. Oh, those days seem to drag on for years. Trying to raise two sons to act with respect and compassion feels like an endless dance on hot coals with society throwing flaming hot daggers to make it all the more interesting; difficult.

But the boys came home from traveling with my parents at least an inch taller each. Once, when I talked to our older son on the phone, he carried on a legitimate conversation that included phrases like, “Well, that’s very interesting.” I’m sorry. What? Who are you?

Time keeps spinning out of my control. I can’t seem to stay on top of my cleaning schedule, my day job, my night-job, my kids’ social schedule, my social schedule, date night, the gray in my hair, the hair on my legs, bodily hair in general (omg, my eyebrows), the news, politics, the latest technology my kids find interesting, the latest warnings about the technology my kids find interesting, the garden, the flowers, the dog’s brushing schedule, when did the dog last get a bath?, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, why do we require food sustenance every single day?, multiple times per day?, we’ve only been to the pool three times, overdue library books, and hey, sometimes I like to write because it makes me feel good, like I’ve accomplished something when everything else seems mostly half-assed.

And so I sit in my rocking chair, blowing my nose and coughing up gunk, watching the clouds float by the other bedroom window. I sit and breathe ohsoslow so as not to start off a coughing jag. I drink my water. The boys run in, as fast as the summer speeds by, to check on me. I rock and remember a time when I felt so overwhelmed by the length of the days, those early newborn days spent in a haze of half-awake, half-asleep, mostly lost.

There’s too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. Yes, being sick on top of it all feels like some kind of punishment for enjoying summer so far. But despite a lengthy to-do list and a growing pile of tissues, I kind of feel like this summer is maybe, almost, perhaps just the right speed. For this year. For us.

 

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Kidsick

Kidsick

When the boys were younger, I earned the title of Helicopter Mom. In fact, I probably could have won an award for Top Helicopter Mom. I helicoptered so good, so close, so perfectly.

But helicoptering is exhausting, and I decided that really wasn’t the type of parent I wanted to be.

So over the years, I forced myself to sit down at the playground—which is why you’ll see me read or even, gasp, look at my phone. I want them to learn independence and play with other kids. We play enough at home. I’ve also forced myself to let them go outside and play, to walk to their friend’s house in the neighborhood, to do things and go places without me.

Which is why my sons are currently on vacation. Without either parent.

They’ve spent weekends away. I’ve spent time away from them for work and to get away for the weekend with my husband. Two weeks ago, they went with my mother-in-law to my nephew’s birthday party for the weekend… and our youngest son FaceTimed me in the middle of the night in tears.

“It’s too far away.”

I reassured him he’d survive, that he was safe with his Nina. After he calmed down and we ended the call, I began to worry about the vacation he’s on right now. Not only further away, but this trip lasts longer to boot. All week leading up to their departure, I reassured him that he could FaceTime me any time he wanted to talk. He could text me when he wanted to tell me something or ask me a question. I told him the only times I wouldn’t be available: when I was working out or running (though I paused a workout today), when I was on a work call, or if I happened to be too deeply asleep to hear his call or text tone. He accepted all of this and went off on vacation without much fanfare.

I just didn’t expect for me the one to feel homesick. Or, rather, kidsick.

He FaceTimed me this morning after a bike ride with his grandparents and before heading down to the beach for the day. He said he missed me a lot. I told him I missed him, too. I let him know about my plans for the day. We talked for a few minutes, and then he ran off to get on sunblock.

And my stomach started to hurt.

Being away from my boys for work or just a weekend doesn’t make me feel much of anything, though maybe a little more ready to handle whatever parenting wants to throw at me. But my sons being away from me?

Apparently it’s really triggering.

I don’t normally have to FaceTime my sons because they live in my house. They’re either at school, at home, on the ball fields, or with friends and family. I know what they’re doing. It’s my job to know what they’re doing.

I don’t know what my daughter is doing most days. Sometimes she replies to my texts, and sometimes she doesn’t. She’s a teen; they have more important things to do than text their (birth) mothers. Sometimes she says hi as she walks by when I’m FaceTiming with her mom. Sometimes she FaceTimes me and asks me to buy her a hedgehog that lives here. But I don’t always know where she is, what her schedule is, or what she’s doing on any given day.

And not knowing what my boys are doing, what they’re eating, how they’re feeling at any given moment this week is poking at all the places I normally try to keep un-poke-able. All of my parenting insecurity, which stems from the placement of my daughter for adoption, seems to be on fire, bells whistling, up in my face.

I logically acknowledge the difference in circumstance. I was very sick and felt I couldn’t parent my daughter, so I placed her—permanently—for adoption. The two parents who live in this immediate family unit couldn’t go on vacation this year, so they jointly decided to send the boys on vacation with their grandparents and extended family. Yes, I see the differences. I acknowledge them. I recognize the undertones.

But I feel like a mother without any of her children. I feel lost. I feel scared. I feel anxious. I feel like I need to drive to the beach and bring them home. Immediately. My helicopter blades are whirring faster than I can think or type and I just want to take off. Anxiety isn’t logical. Guilt and shame aren’t either.

I miss my boys. I miss my daughter. I’m not really used to missing them both at the same time. It’s new, and I don’t really like it very much. I am grateful for time with my husband, but I’m ready for our sons to come home. It’s simply too much for me to miss them all at once.