11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”
Low and slow has been our mantra these past couple of weeks and I am not looking forward to trading it in for fast and frenzied. This summer I have been riding the roller coaster that comes with dealing with flare ups, some days feeling pretty decent and others wishing I could just stay in bed all day long and let the Goobies sort the day out themselves. In some ways, school can’t start fast enough because the sheer amount of energy it takes to keep up with all three of them all day long is more than I have in reserve. I’ve relished these stress-free days with them, but goodness, I’m thankful school is just another week away.
Then again, I’m torn up about it. How can summer possibly be over? It flew, as it always does, and I am not sure how so many days spent at home turned into a blur of summertime memories. We kept busy these past weeks, for sure, but for the most part we spent our days here at home, getting accustomed to a slower, somewhat lonesome life. The girls joined forces against me anytime I suggested we get in the car and go explore our new surroundings, insisting they preferred to just stay home and play Barbies. I let them win most of the time because I didn’t really want to venture far from home anyway because of the not-so-fun games my tummy is playing with me. In hindsight, I wonder if they were sulking because they missed their friends so much and knew it wasn’t easy to just pop over to see them anymore.
We rallied around our big airplane ride last week, fueled by excitement to climb aboard an airplane and make our way to Pepaw & Grandma Lori’s house–and what a fun trip that was–except for the heavy, sticky heat, which I did not love. But I did love the people and the pace and the way land was empty and green, like a comfy blanket spread out for a picnic, inviting us to kick our shoes off and relax a little. Oppressive as the heat was, being somewhere else entirely aired out the stuffy places in the kids’ souls, freshening their perspective in the process.
By the time we got home, I was spent. Vacation zaps the energy right out of me. Does it do that to you, too? But there is no such thing as a post-vacation sabbatical, at least not with three kids in tow. The sun still rose every morning and invited the kids to come out and play, and I begrudgingly got up with them and greeted the day with a steaming cup of coffee and a long to do list. Tired as I was, I started running the moment our plane touched down and haven’t stopped until now. There were doctors appointments and sick kids and BBQs to both throw and attend and Sunday School to teach and school supplies to buy and kids to outfit for the upcoming semester. I haven’t stopped until just this moment.
It is quiet in the house now. The only sound I hear is the scratching of my own mental checklist being ticked off as I recount the day’s activity. It’s barely August and summer seems to have ended already. The week leading up to school is a flurry of activity that leaves me already missing all those lazy summer days that seem to never end, like a summer sun that lingers in the sky well after bedtime, until suddenly, almost without warning, it’s gone.
Addie broke down in tears today just after we finished picking out school shoes, just the two of us. She held my hand and skipped alongside me, content to be quiet and near as we wound our way through the shoe store, until suddenly she flung her arms around me and held me tight, her voice quivering as it eeked out her secret: that she wanted to stay a little girl forever. She doesn’t feel ready for summer to be over either. The immediate future frightens her, as if she’s unconvinced she’s ready to do the big girl things she’ll be expected to do once school starts next week. Putting on a brave face and brushing it off as typical first-day-of-school jitters won’t cut it with her. She doesn’t want the sun to set on summer, on childhood.
I can’t blame her. I tease those Goobies all the time, squeezing them tight and making them promise to never grow up, to always stay little enough for me to scoop them up into my arms and nibble on their chubby little cheeks. The girls’ squeals of delight faded without my permission, and now they huff, “Oh, Mama, I have to grow up” and we giggle and hug and I can’t take it. And then out of nowhere Addie realized she is growing up and it caught her off guard and makes her want to stop inching closer to the big girl she once longed to be. Without warning, she realized that childhood really is temporary.
I held her close and stroked her hair right and let her be the one to let go. I didn’t want to rush her. It seems I’m always rushing her. She let go and looked me in my eyes as I admitted I used to feel the same way right before school started. Her eyes softened at that, and her grip loosened a bit as I told her she would always be my little girl. Just like Summer gradually fades into Fall, childhood slowly shifts into into adulthood. She didn’t have to hurry or make herself sick with worry; there was no rush. The end of childhood will come like summer’s last sunset: gentle and glorious both, when the time is right.
The sun will set on summer eventually, but not today. School will start soon, but summer will linger for a little while longer. Watching these kids grow up breaks my heart and puts it back together again, changing me and creating something new in the process, and my very being is a mosaic made of those fractured, beautiful pieces.