Today marks the first day of school and the official end to what I had dubbed the mother-daughter summer of fun. After nearly three months of staying up late, sleeping in and pretty much setting our own schedule, we must return to routine.
By the end of summer, we parents are ready for school to begin. Busy as the school year is, its rhythm soothes us. I’m ready for the new routine—ready to have time alone again during the day, ready to start building my business, ready to not be my daughter’s primary source of entertainment. Yet it’s bittersweet to say good-bye to this particular summer.
When I look back at how nervous I felt in June with the entire summer of just the two of us looming before me, I have to laugh. I had never stayed home full-time with my daughter before, and wondering how we’d keep ourselves occupied for 11 weeks had me frantically filling the calendar.
Remarkably the time flashed by. It is a blur of road trips, strawberry picking, playgrounds, museums, art projects and day camps. Every week posed a different adventure, a new discovery.
We packed so much in and yet what I will remember most from this summer was the constant, “Mommy, Mommy look at me.” At times, her constant need for me nearly drove me to insanity, especially on days when I needed to squeeze in just a little bit of work. Still, she was my full-time job, so I looked and looked and looked. As challenging as it was at times, this summer was a gift because I was able to spend its entirety actually seeing my daughter.
There won’t be another summer quite like it again. By next year, I will be working more and won’t have the luxury of staying with her all day. My daughter will have friends and activities that begin to take priority over time spent with me.
The older she gets, the more I will cease to be the sun in her universe. Instead, as it should be, I will slide into the background, the unnoticeable gravitational pull that helps keep her in orbit.
For this one summer, though, she was mine and I was hers. We drove each other crazy in the way that only mothers and daughters can.
At bedtime last night, she was nervous about today and her new school. She wanted me to stay until she fell asleep. Initially, I thought it best to establish our new routine right away, but then she said the dearest words she could have possibly said, “Mommy, I won’t see you as much when school starts and I just want to spend more time with you.”
So I stayed to squeeze in just a few more moments of the mother-daughter summer of fun—or what I have renamed, “the best summer vacation I ever had.”