I love summer. I love sunshine and warm temperatures. I love dressing in a tank top, shorts, and sandals. I love sunsets at 9 pm. I love barbeques. I love sitting on the beach with a good book. Summers make me happy.
It is nearly the end of summer. This weekend is Labor Day weekend, traditionally the end of summer fun. Here, where I live, most schools begin classes next week. The stores and malls are full of last minute shoppers looking for every item on school supply lists. The beaches are crowded with thousands of people trying to eek out the last bit of carefree summer days. So, naturally, I, who can’t stand large crowds, decide to take two of my grandsons to the beach.
The day started early. Sunscreen was slathered on little bodies. Board shorts and matching rash guards were dug out of suitcases. Sandals were retrieved from under the couch. I packed a big picnic lunch and grabbed my lime green beach chair and the bag of sand toys. We were ready to go.
Surprisingly, the beach wasn’t as crowded as I’d feared. We were able to find a spot close to the water and Graham and Hudson took off into the chilly Pacific. I set up our little outpost and settled down to enjoy a few hours of surf and sand. It was bittersweet. Endings always are to me. Seasons flow naturally from one to the other, but some seasons are harder to let go. Summer is that way. Perhaps it is because it marks the end of one season of childhood into another. New school year. New teachers. New friends. New teeth. New experiences. New skills to master. So many new things on the horizon. Then, in the blink of an eye the school year is over and the cycle begins again. Childhood rushing by.
I thought about my grown kids today. Wasn’t it just yesterday that my three little ones were splashing in the surf? How many hours had I sat in a chair and watched them dig and build? Was I even aware of the swift passage of time and the precious moments that I would soon miss? Probably not. I was caught up in the every day-ness of my life. Of their lives. Pity. If I could go back 20 years and pull up a chair next to my perpetually stressed out self I’d tell her to relax more. Laugh more. Worry about dust bunnies less. Take more pictures and more leisurely baths. I’d tell her that the days of childhood are short. Homework, tests, and permission slips are not the most important things in life. Important? Yes. The most important? Not even close. I’d tell her to sing more and clean less. Enjoy. Leave the dishes until after the impromptu game of backyard basketball is over. That kind of stuff. I have a feeling, though, that the young mom of three wouldn’t have been able to take that advice. I was just too busy being busy.
Summer is coming to a close. So are these sweet little boy years. My two oldest grandsons are beginning first grade. First grade!! Next year they’ll be looking at colleges! Of the two youngest, the four-year-old just started preschool. Next year, Kindergarten, the year after that I’ll be attending his high school graduation. Yep, it goes by that fast!
So today I sat with Hudson, age 3 and a wise old soul, as he took a break from play to eat a honey sandwich. I smoothed his crazy overgrown hair and looked into his incredibly blue eyes. I saw the past. I saw me as a curly-haired, blue-eyed blonde playing at the beach when my mom surprised us four kids with an evening drive through Taco Bell and a quick trip to the ocean before sunset, on a school night. I saw Hudson’s mom, my hazel-eyed brunette, with the sparkle in her eyes and the apple cheeked smile, at the age of 3 digging sand on this same beach.
Yes, bittersweet. The sweetness of the right now moments, mixed with the knowledge that these days and seasons pass way too quickly. So I’ll take my own advice. I’m going to relax with these little guys. I’m going to sing in the car and tell “Knock, Knock” jokes. I’m going to put together that puzzle for the 15th time today. I’m going to take pictures, lots of them, more than anyone other than my husband would want to see in an entire lifetime. I’m going to whip those pictures out at the mere mention of grandchildren and bore you to death as I describe in minute detail the wonderfulness of these amazing human beings that I’m privileged to call my own. Which reminds me. Want to see another picture? Sure you do!