I’m struggling with summer this year.
We’re 21 days into June, and it still doesn’t feel like this season has really started yet.
Every afternoon, a smattering of raindrops streams down my window, and I feel my dreams for a magical summer sliding down beside them. As I sit inside at work, watching these rivers snake their way across the glass, I wonder why my stress levels are rising like the puddles I step into on a regular occurrence these days.
Maybe I’m just a little nostalgic for the way summers once were—for the way I remember them.
When I didn’t wake up before sunrise and crash on the couch at an embarrassingly early hour. When the lights from the lampposts were my nightly reminder to go inside and sprinklers solely existed to be run through instead of simply watering the lawn I need to regularly weed. When lightning bugs lit up mason jars and cloud gazing seemed like a perfectly acceptable way to spend the day.
When everything was magical and happy and, most of all, easy.
But I’m determined not to let this late-blooming summer get the better of me.
Earlier this week, on our way home, my daughter and I decided to ruin our dinner and stopped to get ice cream.
We sat outside on a patio and let the afternoon’s post-storm, humid air create sweat lines down our backs. We brushed our hair off our damp foreheads and dipped our spoons into our cold treats, savoring their sweetness. Later, we ate salad on the couch while we watched a silly show, and then I gave my daughter a little pedicure in the prettiest shade we could find.
As I painted her toenails, I looked up, wondering what Zoey might remember about her summers as a child.
Fortunately – or maybe unfortunately I guess – Zoey doesn’t have summers like I once did. She goes off to summer school as I go to work, and her real summertime exists in the evening hours and on the weekends.
But as we sat there together, me worried if I was really doing everything I could to make this summer one to remember, I watched a smile tug at the corners of her lips. I listened as her giggles filled the space between us. And I felt a familiar feeling bubble up inside me.
It felt easy.
I hope Zoey remembers that night. When mango gelato dripped from her chin as a rainbow appeared above us and the sun began its evening descent. When my fingers tickled her tiny toes as I painted them turquoise blue, the exact same shade of her nightgown. When she curled herself up against me as the ceiling fan whirred above us and the eager crickets chirped outside her window.
I hope she remembers her last words before sleep took her away that night.
“This was the best day of summer ever.”
Even if she doesn’t remember those words, I will.
I will carry her words with me whenever I’m feeling guilty that maybe summers now will never be what I remember. For not being able to give her a summer like those I remember.
Because other than being technical term for this season, what really is summer?
It’s a feeling—one I’m determined to create, for both her and for me, one ruined dinner at a time.