I had just finished reading yet another article bemoaning the “fact” that we only get 18 summers with our children. This one was a real tearjerker. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you may have seen it. I shared a post from a page called, Love, Faith & Chaos which included a picture of a front porch covered with the shoes of teenagers. It was well written and the emotion of it tugged at my heartstrings. The author returned from work to find the shoes of her children’s friends littering her front porch and knew that they were all gathered in her house, watching her tv and emptying her cupboards. She also knew that this familiar scene would soon cease to exist. Her children and their friends were headed off to college in the fall. I felt a connection with this woman. I, too, have children going off to school in the fall, and to make matters worse, those children aren’t even going to be home most of the summer. They are spending the summer serving as camp counselors. I’m only getting a fraction of our eighteenth summer.
As a tear of self-pity ran down my face, my phone vibrated. It was my adult son. He wanted to know if he and his wife could join us for our annual camping trip to the lake. This will be our 28th summer. Shortly after that, his younger brother called. He and his wife would be in the area and wanted to join us for dinner. This will be our 26th summer. Then, a few hours later, my daughter texted me. She had forgotten a few things when she left for camp and was hoping I would be visiting this weekend and we could spend some time together. This will be our 20th summer.
Only 18 summers? I don’t think so. Every summer looks different. The first five are filled with plastic baby pools, sippy cups, bubbles and tricycles. Five through ten are full of jars of lightening bugs, tents in the yard, homemade freeze pops, and trips to the pool. Ten through fifteen are packed with sports camps, and sleepovers, rafting trips and walks to the ice cream parlor with their friends. Summers 16 through 18 may feature a summer job, nights at the drive-in, and spontaneous road trips. Just because our children become adults doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy summers with them. If we’ve spent the first 18 with them right, they will want to spend more with us.
My second son and his wife just spent the 4th of July holiday with us. It was just the four of us and we had a great time. We went target shooting, spent time in the pool and grilled some amazing steaks. We also enjoyed those steaks with some adult beverages. We couldn’t have done that in the first 18 summers.
It looks like all of our offspring will be joining us at the lake for our annual camping trip. Some of them are even bringing their significant others. I’m looking forward to hiking and kayaking and games around the picnic table with all of them. It may be our 28th summer or it may be our 15th. It doesn’t really matter. I’m just glad it’s summer and they want to spend it with me.