Yesterday I sent out a photo reel highlighting the summer's activities to my family. It was filled with joyous moments: Picnics, barbecues, fireworks, swimming,family weddings, parades and lots and lots of ice-cream. Except for the black bear that made an unwarranted trek across our backyard, it looked like a summer well-spent.
My youngest son, the only unmarried one who just started law school a couple weeks ago sent back a five- word reply: That made me so sad.
I completely got what he meant because I teared up too, looking at those memories. But being three decades older than him, I see the changes up ahead, most of them welcome and some of them uncertain. At twenty-two, he has his entire future ahead of him, yet he shares the same melancholy as me. I guess that's why we've always said he has an old soul.
Two weeks ago marked the last first day of school I will experience as a mother. Just before my husband loaded up the car for the drive into Manhattan for his law school drop-off, we replicated the exact position of him standing beneath
the (now larger) tree in front of the house, backpack over his shoulders, where he had stood as a kindergartener eighteen years ago. I swallowed the tears and smiled broadly.
As the youngest, he had the most quality time and undivided attention and that did not escape his siblings' observations.
Oldest daughter: Ma, you're not really making him lunch? He's in eighth grade. I made myself lunch in fourth grade.
Me: Because you wanted to...boys are different. And besides, you know he will just starve.
I enabled his need because I needed it too. We spent a lot of quality time together during his 'gap year' between college and law school, and I know as thrilled as he is to embrace the challenge of his future, I also know he won't turn down the leftovers I send back to school with him after the next visit.
I've spent some time wondering why there is so much lead-up to summer. We have Memorial Day as the introduction, sanctioning the cleaning of our grills left grimy from the barbecues of the previous year. Then we have July Fourth reminding us that indeed, for those who haven't yet had their first hot dog, now would be the ideal time while watching fireworks emblazon the sky.
Then we have a scant eight weeks until the closing bell of Labor Day. It's the last chance to catch the rays of sun as it rises later in the morning and sets earlier in the evening. Beaches close, even though temperatures in New York still hover in the 80 and 90 degree range as children ride airless yellow buses.
Everyone is back from vacation and the serious business of fall and winter loom just out of sight. The Jewish calendar marks this time as the beginning of the year and I think they got it right. We are indeed shedding our frolicking at the pool and the balmy evenings as we hunker down to the serious business of getting back to real life.
Nine months until the start of next summer....And counting...