The last time I noticed the calendar it was May, or it seemed that it was. August is nearly over now. Over the last several months we've endured a prolonged drought with nearly uningestible humidity as our lungs rebelled and screamed for unsodden oxygen. Our days never dragged in our rush toward the weekends and fun-filled frolic, or so we thought.
When did June slip into July, into August? Was there a vacation? Did I miss it somewhere along the way? Perhaps there was, but everything went by so quickly that the blur didn't spell R-E-L-A-X-A-T-I-O-N. No, it spelled E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-O-N instead. All of us seemed caught between the heat and the drought leaving us a walking misery-a misery we shared like a kid with Chicken Pox in the classroom.
From those early days in May until now, there has been something needing attention, cash, and time each week, sometimes several times a week. It's always over-the-top and out of the norm. I hate out of the norm. First it was arranging for "summer day camp" and family birthdays. There was a barbecue or eight to plan for, either to attend or give. There was and still is prolonged overtime on the job making retrieval of a young child each evening an adventure in time management, or a last minute pleading to a family member that "just might" be able to pick her up.
Then there were cupcake parties-which we amply supplied-only to find out we'd been nominated the evening before. There were annual check-ups with booster shots and new prescription glasses. There were fishing rodeos and beach trips with carnival rides. Included in all this were sunburns, blisters, and splinters. Then it was back-to-school arrangements for after-care and uniform shopping.
Amid the frenzied joy of that "new" bicycle, and pool parties were also tears. My daughter's summer has been filled with all that and much more. For her parents, the merry-go-round of this summer has indeed been a wild ride.
It's not a fun ride. Delight only comes in sporadic flashes. It's that small hand that seeks out your own as you cross the parking lot into the grocery store and you wonder how much longer it will last. It's her sudden concern for your welfare, albeit a brief interest, if you find yourself suffering from a massive, blinding headache and she sees your tears. It's her interest in the ritual of lighting candles and unplugging household machinery in the face of an oncoming storm-and she still wants to sit in your lap for protection.
This summer's joy isn't about the trips, the toys, or the tears. This summer is looking at the end of one stage that will lead into bigger steps for a little girl learning to be a big girl. Her queries no longer have that little girl flavor. No, her questions are of a broader and larger scope. They are more difficult questions asked of parents weary after long hours of toil. She's beginning to see the world and her place in it. It's no longer her sphere.
So while the cycle of annual events roll into a poor harvest time this year, ours will be bittersweet. Our labors are rewarded with unexpected growth, yet sadness over what will never be again. For now, it's still the scent of new pencils and tablets with penny loafers and ponytails. Only months away now it will be perfume and more feminine fripperies than fancy tights and training bras.
Please let her hand always reach for mine. I am empty without it.