Friday, August 17, 2018

The Perfect Summer

Recently (for pretty much my entire marriage), I've dreaded summer.
I know this is completely opposite of everyone on the planet (it feels like), but let me explain:

-We always move in the summer. Sure, we don't move as much as some people (only three really big moves in the past 10 years), but nothing is worse than moving, and it completely ruins my summers.

-I've been pregnant three times in the summer. Twice, it was through the whole awful just-kill-me-now-because-I've-lost-the-will-to-live first trimester, and with the middle one, it was through the huge-as-a-beached-whale final trimester. Something about being pregnant in the summer, when you're supposed to travel and be out and about doing fun things and your kids stay up late and wake up early because of all the extra light... doing summer while pregnant just depresses me.

-I'm a creature of habit and routine. And summer throws it all off. Sometimes in a nice way, but mostly in a disruptive way that leaves me feeling slightly off-kilter.

-I HATE being sweaty. I also hate the artificial feeling of air conditioning (especially when it feels cold enough that you actually need a sweater in doors to be comfortable!). Do you see the conundrum here?

-I do not know how to wear summer clothes. Layers are kind of my thing for putting outfits together, but that doesn't work in the summer. And I feel like shorts are so awkward, but skirts are too dressy, and pants will just kill you. Why are summer clothes so hard?

-I love soup. And hot chocolate. And roasting vegetables in the oven without my kitchen feeling like the surface of the sun. I do also love salads and fresh summer produce, but my husband is so sick of salads right now that I'm looking longingly at my soup recipes and wishing for colder weather.

So yeah, summer has, at least for most of my marriage, produced in me a feeling of low-level anxiety and annoyance that means I usually don't look forward to the season.

But all that complaining is to preface that this year! This summer! This summer has felt like the start of something new and wonderful and beautiful. This is the first summer in a long, long time that I've felt sorry that it's ending. And so I just want to take a moment to stop and reflect about what was so good about this summer.

-We didn't move! And it's likely we won't be moving for a long, long time. Which means I finally feel settled. Like we've arrived. I think that feeling of being "home" has really helped me feel more content with summer. I know we lived in our place in Houston for almost four years, which is pretty settled, but it was an apartment in not perfect school boundaries, and we always knew we would have to move someday, so I thought of it as temporary. And even though we will very likely move again at some point in our future, we are pretty sure we're here for at least another five years, and there is the possibility we'll stay here forever. We talk about things like "If this is our forever house, then someday let's (insert whatever house project dream here)." Apparently, I need roots. I need to be "home". And while I need this all the time, I especially need it during summers of travel and relaxed routines.

-My kids are at great ages. Seriously, it has been so fun to be home with them this summer. The baby is just big enough for adventures, but everyone's still young enough for nap-time/quiet-time (yay!). Everyone's sleeping tolerably well, no one got sick, they've played well together for the most part, no one was potty training or going through some otherwise horrible phase, and it was just fun to be with them! They are all at a really cute age for their personality. The baby's vocabulary has just been exploding this summer and she's becoming so much more reasonable and pleasant to be around now that she can communicate a little better (also, she's just so stinking cute!). My three year old is absolutely the most adorable child on the planet (I never thought I would say that about a three-year-old, I hated this age with my oldest son and predict I will hate it again with my strong-willed youngest). And my six-year-old is just the coolest kid ever, so helpful and responsible and full of enthusiasm for life. We spent lots of time going on walks or playing at the park or hanging out at the library or reading together, and it was just sort of the summer of my motherhood dreams. I'm really, really sad we won't be getting to hang out in this chill, relaxed, always reading kind of way anymore.

-We went on a fabulous trip! And my kids got to have a fabulous Grandma Boot Camp with their cousins! But then (this is the key), we all came home and just had a quiet rest of the summer, only a few weekend trips. I need balance in my life. I need big exciting vacations, but then I need lots of chill downtime to recover, and this summer was perfect for me.

-I know summer will end! Honestly, I think this was one of my biggest problems with summer in Houston, the fact that it never ended! Hot and sweaty temperatures just kept going and going and going, and it depressed me to no end. What I've decided about myself is that it's not so much that I love winter and hate summer, it's that I need my seasons to change! This sounds really funny, coming from someone who just spent paragraphs complaining about how I need roots and hate moving and need reliable routing. But for whatever reason, I crave changing seasons. I know by the end of last winter I was thoroughly annoyed with cold weather and just ready to see the sun again. That's what I need from my summer weather too. I need it to end. I can't love it unless it's temporary.

So yes, despite the fact that I need the season to end in order to fully enjoy it, this summer I do feel like it's ending too early. I'm already mourning the end of this perfect, golden summer. I don't want my children to grow up, I don't want to go back to school and spend so many hours away from them, I don't want this happy moment to vanish. I recognize that this is it. This is the moment, the season I will look back on and long for in years ahead. Yes, we'll have plenty of good times and good summers ahead of us, and there are many wonderful things to look forward to, but also there will be hard times too. There will be less than happy seasons ahead of us too, so I want to stop right now and recognize that this is it! This is happiness! This is beautiful! This moment, this season, was a pure gift of joy.

I'm sad it's ending, but I'm also grateful. I'm so grateful we got this summer, this summer together of all sorts of small golden moments. And I'm hoping that writing about it here will help me always remember. No matter how life changes, no matter how great or how horrible future seasons of my life are, I want to look back on this summer and remember what a gift it was.

We have a moment of happiness and sunshine, and life is good. Life is so, so good.


  1. I remember having almost these exact same thoughts four years ago, when Clark was a baby. I worried that we’d never again have as perfect a summer as that one. But the good news is, I’ve loved every summer just as much or more since then, so I think once you’ve found your summer groove, it keeps coming back. :)

    1. I am very much hoping we have many magical summers in our future. I just also anticipate some not-as-good ones. And it was nice, after such a long stretch of miserable summers, to finally have a good one!