The dog days of August are here, and before you know it, kids across Long Island will be going back to school. It seems like only yesterday that I watched jubilant children exit their school buses on the last day with smiles as wide as can be.
The end of the school year brings joy and excitement to many—to the students who have eagerly awaited summer vacation since that first day of school in September, to the teachers who need a well-deserved break after a long academic year, to the parents who welcome the reprieve from their chaotic schedules—almost everyone would agree that the end of the school year is cause for celebration… everyone but this mom.
Melancholy over the end of school usually finds its way into my heart and mind after spring break, which is about the time I realize that there are no more long school vacations ahead, only the short Memorial Day Weekend, which means summer vacation is lurking close behind. While others are crossing the days off the calendar in great anticipation, I do my best to look the other way.
I often ponder if I feel this way because, like so many of us, my husband and I work full-time. You see, summers for my family have never been about taking day trips to the beach or lazily wiling away the hours at my parents’ pool. Nor has it been about an annual summer vacation that we’ve been eagerly awaiting. Instead, summer has meant figuring out day camps, playdates, summer sports schedules, and transportation for our son to the aforementioned activities (thanks, mom and dad and grammy and grandpa!)
Now that our son is a teenager with a driver’s license (eek!), our summer vacation worries have only gotten bigger. When he was a tween, we fretted about our son having to cross Main Street so he could meet his friends at the local CVS to buy candy and other snacks. Nowadays, we lament texting and driving, among the myriad of concerns other that parents of all teens must bear.
But despite the various reasons I’ve considered, I believe the nagging feeling of summer break has more to do with the proverbial ticking time clock—that of mine and my child’s. In my estimation, summer vacation signals that another school year is in the books, with a new one not far behind. This, in turn, means I am another year older, as is my son, bringing us closer to his high school graduation.
I don’t think I will ever be ready for that milestone, especially since my son is my first and last child, my one and only. When he flies the coop for college, assuming he chooses to go away, there are no siblings behind him to keep me busy and occupied. I will have become an empty-nester, and the thought makes me shudder.
I have approximately 380 days to wrap my head around this fact, while I continue to pray that his father and I have done our best to provide our child with a solid foundation that will propel him into adulthood. I hope that he will always remember to say please and thank you, open the car door for his girlfriend, and be a good friend. It’s crazy to think that all these feelings start with summer vacation.
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