The other day Saoirse mentioned that I seemed to be a lot more “organized” this summer. I managed to choke back my laughter–if she ever tells you about that time Mommy sounded like she swallowed a small goat, she means this–and asked her what she meant, exactly. At first she said, “Well, you know: you have everything we’re doing written on the calendar.”The goat kicked around in my esophagus for a bit longer before I could respond to her. See, here’s the thing: if I planned anything this summer, it was the week of–days before, really–it happened. This summer I think I earned my PhD in pants-seat-flying. But maybe what SK noticed is that I’ve been jotting down what we have done on the whiteboard calendar I keep in the kitchen. (I know, it’s weird, but I liked a record of this abyss other people call “summer break.”).Later, I realized that what she meant by organized was our pattern: we usually spent the morning at home–the kids would play while I got work done–and then we’d do something together in the afternoon. That usually meant the pool. For them, that also usually meant fun, of course. But it wasn’t until she mentioned it that I realized we actually had a little routine going. Maybe I’m better at this full-time parenting gig than I thought.
David took part of the day off today to spend some time with us–the girls had asked him to go to a water park with them, and that’s what we’d planned to do, until we looked outside this morning and saw that it was supposed to feel like 100 degrees today with thunderstorms all around. Strangely enough, no one in the family was in the mood to get electrocuted while swimming in a mechanical wave pool in the back of a hilly amusement park.So you know what we did instead? Harrisburg, our nearest city, has an outdoor display scattered around the sidewalks right now of dinosaur statues that different artists have decorated. That’s what we decided to do instead of go swimming–walk around the concrete sidewalks of a stinking, sweltering city in 90-plus-degree heat in search of dinosaur art. (“Uh, Mom?” Cian asked before we left. “They’re not going to be real dinosaurs, are dey? They’re painted dinosaurs, right?”) We lasted about a half hour, but I will say it was a cheerful half hour. And, as always, as we drove home (via an ice cream shop, because HOT), I heard the following, once again, from Cian: “That was fun.” Because I guess he likes sweating his little toddler self to a puddle just so he can look at a Tyrannosaurus Rex dressed up like a Transformer. I’ll take it. Summer ends for us next weekend. I’m not ready for it to end. Not ready at all. This time with the kids–as real as they get, as individual as they are, as fascinating as they can be–has been worth all of the crazy and uncertainty and lack of my Saoirse-professed organization. So I’ll keep marking what we’ve done, noting the time spent together, as a family, with each other. Because right now, those tanned legs and chlorine-knotted hair and bruises and bug bites that are lying all over my family room floor are the most precious things to me in the world (David’s here, too. I haven’t forgotten him).I won’t miss the slobbery couch pillows (I don’t know how. I just know that I picked one up, and there was slobber). I won’t miss the coffee table being used as a way to block misguided headstands. I won’t miss the cute little sibling slumber parties on the bedroom floor that end with somebody punching the other in the back and everybody waking up with dark circles under their eyes because one child kept rolling over on top of the other two. But that’s it. That’s only it. The good parts, though? The painted dinosaurs and ice cream and pool dates on the calendar and my kids who are here to bake and fight and play and swim and wake up happy and tackling each other on the way into our bedroom each morning?That part I’m not ready to let go.