Every year I have a fairly predictable first day of summer vacation. It is, without fail, emotionally charged in a sweet and nostalgic way.
Eloise is always the first to instruct the taxi to make the left turn into the graveled driveway of Beachmound, my husbands family home, just as the the sun is setting over the Atlantic Ocean.
Our hungry and tired bodies are instantaneously reinvigorated by the site of our faded white clapboard cottage, formerly named the “dumplet” by my in laws. The neatly pruned hydrangeas stand alert on the front lawn.
By August, a riot of pink and purple blowzy blossoms will paint my lawn and will pack every leftover glass jar and vase in my house.
Now, I have taken over the wheel and I am trekking with my children across the country to their summer destination. While Newport, RI seeps into my skin a tad more every summer , my childhood summer memories will always be the freshest and the purest, just as I watch my own children’s unfold before my eyes.
Like clock work, the girls catch their second wind as they race through the creaking cottage doors in a dash to find their faded favorite tutu or coveted swimming metal that was left in a specific spot the year before.
I peak into the closets to find hangers stiff with dresses the color of Easter eggs, questioning out loud if they shrunk over the winter months.
We travel lightly as hand me downs are the clothes that are in season at the “dumplet”.
Cursing the windows year after year I finally release the storm glass, allowing for fresh air to replace the palpable smell of humidity and confinement. ( A rite of passage for the gift of this cottage year after year I tell myself..)
Secretly, I imagine my home awakening and thanking me for filling the void of nothingness that enveloped her for last nine long months.
Black and white and color photos cover the walls with children that are recognizably mine. Yet, there is no casual whisper that my childrens bodies are elongating and the baby-ness of their faces is departing. I can feel the passage of time.
I am no longer the child in the back of a wagon asking ” Are we there yet?” I am the mother gently explaining that it is bedtime even though the sun is still out. Patterns of clouds forming into animals and worn white sheets transport me as I say, It’s bedtime!”
There is no substitution for what summer can donate to a family. My children will affectionately speak about the lengthy summer days and they will pine over them and embellish just as I do now. The details matter and I will take my position of Director of Fun seriously this summer.
The word stress will be void I will try to listen more to their stories and complaints, and play the same games over and over again and remember that there is no time limit on swimming pools, oceans and popsicles.
I can leave the work books and the ipads and the TV for the school year. This is the summer of fun.
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you”