The LAST Weekend of Summer

This weekend I had a flare of panic. Not because the laundry pile was perilously high (which it was) or because I had forgotten to look for a new dentist (which I had – again), but because I realized that this was the last weekend of summer.

And I mean the LAST weekend of summer, before Cade starts kindergarten and summers for the next 12 years will be defined by the school calendar, and not the weather. Starting next week, we will be sucked into the machine that will churn us through back to school shopping in July, snow days that that will leave us scrambling for child care, and vacations planned with the precision of  a space shuttle launch. The days of picking up and going just because it’s sunny will be gone. The thought made me queasy and a little sad.

So on Saturday morning I announced, “Today we will ride a steam engine train!” It’s no Disney World, but I figured it was good enough to make me feel like I was still harnessing the last bits of summer sunshine. Cade was unimpressed.

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See him hiding back there? He’s not fooling anyone.

C: I don’t want to ride a train!

Me: We’re going.

C: No! You can’t make me.

Me: Buckle up, kid. We’re riding the rails today.

The road to the train station was winding and lovely. Pastoral, even. But every time I turned onto a new country lane, I heard an audible, heavy sigh in the backseat. Cade was done with my bubbly enthusiasm. Over it. I was still in summer mom mode, but he had already zoomed past me into a pre-adolescent ‘tude of sarcasm. He had become, at five, too cool for me. I was kind of proud of him. At the same time, I wanted to cry for the baby that I realized was long gone.

As the steam engine chugged up to the station to pick us up, Cade broke out into a huge, silly grin. He bobbed up and down in his Star Wars sneakers, giddy with the thought of climbing into the coach and watching the farms speed by from the window. My baby isn’t gone, just hidden under bravado and the cool exterior of a boy who wants to be taken seriously as a big kid. I realized then that I don’t have to worry about putting him on the bus next week. He’ll have his buddies at school, the teachers will take good care of him, and he will transition more smoothly than I will.

But it is, surely, the end of something precious and special –in the same way that kindergarten will be a new kind of special. I may not be ready, but the train is leaving the station just the same. All aboard!!

Strausburg

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You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

I haven’t been watching the political conventions these past weeks because everything about this election stresses me out. Instead I’m watching re-runs of The West Wing as a Utopian exercise in denial. But there’s no way to avoid one key fact – a woman is making history tonight.

This got me thinking about all of the amazing women I know. And I know a LOT of truly incredible women. Indulge me for a minute. I want to paint you a picture.

80s Girl

Big hair, big dreams.

It was the 80s. My friends growing up were regular gals. They played with Strawberry Shortcake dolls or Star Wars action figures. They put Sun-In in their hair, or lemon juice, making friendship bracelets and folding notes to each other in origami intricate enough to make a paper crane blush. They were girls. Regular, ordinary, legwarmer-wearing girls.

I’m not that old. (Really, I’m not. Ahem – let’s move on). When I was growing up there weren’t many worthwhile role models around. We had a few good ones, sure. Sally Ride. Murphy Brown. Probably more. There were more, right?

Now we’re older and suddenly there are kickass women everywhere. My old girlfriends from grade school are now CEOs, CMOs, business owners, petrophysicists, attorneys, pharmacists, astrophysicists, instructional designers, and strategic experts in their field. And those are just the flashy titles. This gang also includes teachers, social workers, mothers, nurses, salespeople, writers, and loads of other jobs that are just as (if not more) grueling than the first batch. My LinkedIn connections list looks like a boastful Jeopardy category. I’ll take Impressive Careers for 500, Alex.

I’m not pandering. I don’t mean, “Gee willakers – look what the little ladies can do!” What I love is that we’ve done it while still being us. We have better highlights in our hair now, sure. But we got here without having to compromise who we are or apologize for being women. My girlfriends are still smart and funny, silly and disarming. And we are everywhere.

That’s not to say that things are equal. We all know there’s still work to do. But still — if I had a daughter, I would revel in the fact that don’t have to give her the, “You can be anything you want when you grow up” talk.

She’d watch the convention speeches tonight and see that it’s true.

 

Murphy Brown

 

 

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I had ONE job

So many nights end like this, when I was supposed to run one stinking errand that I ultimately forgot. Sometimes it’s picking up Dwight’s psycho doggie meds, sometimes it’s a forgotten loaf of bread or gallon of milk, and then there’s nights like this — when my choices have predestined me to yet another night of angst and no sleep.

We have one boy who sleeps in underpants. Another who still needs the pull-up. And last night I used the very last pull-up, which meant I had to make a run to the store for more today while I was work. Which, of course, I forgot to do.

Chris Farley is El Nino

Chris Farley is El Nino

By the time I got everyone home and fed, the skies opened up and a horribly misplaced February thunderstorm rolled in. The boys whimpered. Then they cried. Then they clung to me with the force of mutant spider monkeys armed with duct tape. And I realized that there wasn’t a single pull-up in the entire house.

I peeled the boys off me at bedtime with lots of snuggles and promises that I’d be right outside the door. I bribed my way out of there by turning on an extra night light and letting them sleep in the same bed.

Think of me at 3:30am, when one of them will absolutely have peed on the other. I will be cleaning and consoling little boys, changing sheets, and cursing El Nino for bringing a February thunderstorm that made a forgotten trip to the store that much worse.

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