For the first time ever, neither of my kids will be home for the summer. The Princess is in Boston at her graduate program and has two part-time jobs; Dearest Son is working in Admissions at his college, doing tour guides and answer phones.
It’s strange. For all these years, summer has been about the kids. The house rhythms and sounds change—creaking floors late at night as they settle into bed after McIrish and me, two rounds of breakfast. Last summer, Dearest worked at Dunkin Donuts and opened the shop, so he’d get up before 3:00 a.m., return home around 10 a.m. and go to bed. The Princess worked a long day last summer, 10 hour shifts, but would be home for dinner every night.
But this summer, the house is quiet. No one is upstairs. Their rooms are both tidy and clean. There are no damp towels on the bathroom hooks. No child drives up or down the driveway, and there is no question about who will sit where on the porch in the evening.
It’s a little bit strange. It’s peaceful but a little lonely, in that wonderful heart-achey way…my kids are doing really well out there in the world, happy and independent, as I always hoped they’d be. As I taught for them to be.
So many times, I’ve heard moms say, “I wish they were little again,” in regard to their kids. I vowed never to be one of them. It would be ungrateful to mourn the fact that time had passed, that our kids were alive and thriving, to imply that simply because of the passage of time, children had lost their shine. I love having older kids. Love seeing their names on my phone, love when they text me a picture of what they’re doing, love visiting them. I love the adults they’ve become.
Those summer days when a dishpan of sudsy water could entertain them, when going to the library was an exciting outing, when I’d draw the blackout shades in their room at 7 p.m. and sing them their bedtime songs…those were magical. I know now that remembering those happy, long summers isn’t regret that they’ve grown up. It’s simple appreciation. I don’t wish my kids were little again. I was there for that time, and I loved every day.
But last week, when the four-year-old twins from next door came to visit, I pushed them on the swings my kids had so loved. I took a little movie of the boy and the girl, squeaking in glee, and sent it to Dearest and the Princess. “This brings back happy memories of my two favorite kids,” I said, and both responded. “Aw!” said Dearest. “Hooray!” said the Princess.
How lucky I am to have two such good people as my kids, who understand their mom being a little sentimental, who still refuse to call any place but this house “home.”