I wish I could bottle end-of-summer me. She really is the best version of me. She is the most present, happy, let it go version of myself. Maybe this year I finally will.
At the beginning of the summer I buy overpriced organic suntan lotion and I have a list of camps and stuff we need to do and by the end I am buying the stuff on sale for 25 cents at the Shell station and it's probably mostly made of gasoline and just whatever. We eat Pez like it's fruit and we play video games like it's our job. We wear 18 outfits per day but never anything with buttons. We stay up late. We laugh. Really deeply laugh. At life, at each other, honestly who knows maybe it's delirium driven by excessive sugar and gasoline laced sunscreen.
Just yesterday we went to the pool and when we got there, Ruby, who was on her 17th piece of gum for the day realized she couldn't swim and chew gum and so logically, rather than search for a trash receptacle, she put it in my hand. Somehow, this made sense to both of us. But I was trying to do Hope's sunscreen at the same time and so in lieu of either a tissue or trash can I inexplicably placed the chewed piece of gum on the edge of the handle of my swim bag to throw out when I finished sunscreening her. So I finish and I go looking for the chewed up gum and I can't find it. Has she started re chewing it? Did it fall somewhere? I search in the bag and on the ground and I can't find it. My summer brain does not work very well and has an amazingly short attention span. I assume that chewed gum has disappeared because of magic or something. I move on.
Three hours later we arrive home from the pool in dry clothes and Dylan cries out that his underwear is soddered to his bottom and I can't understand what is happening until I realize that Ruby's chewed up gum must have fallen inside his change of clothes and now he has a hardened layer of gum on his backside. He tries to shower it off but it won't come off and so he puts on the only clean PJs he can find which are fleece even though it's 90 degrees and pairs it with one of Phil's shirts because we are apparently only washing beach towels and bathing suits now. And another mom who stopped by in the middle of dinner with children and popsicles at 6:30, well we just sit there and laugh and laugh about the depths of summer parenting to which we've sunk as we cheers with our lukewarm chardonnay.
I know full well that I can't be this level of sloth year round, but what I want to bottle up is that version of me that doesn't berate herself for all of it. The one that accepts that the best mother I can be is not the one that gets everything right, but the one who laughs at herself and them and with them. The one that's fully present when she's with them. The one that's too busy enjoying them to obsess about how many and which balls she's dropped.
Anyway, our season of slothing is nearly done. I've got to go scrape gum off one of my kids and the hide the Pez from the others. Someone said we're making snickerdoodles and since I've moved to a Montessori style of summer parenting where the kids drive the activities I guess that's what we are doing I think. Hope wants to paint cereal boxes. Like take the actual cereal out of the box and paint it. I have no idea why. But we've got like a week and a half more left to do spend our days doing useless, tasty and fun stuff so let's just go all in.
After that, we head into fall fortified with memories, probably some cavities and a reminder that perfection isn't what you do or how you look or the number of things you cross off your list, but realizing that wherever that place is that you want to be? That mother you hope you'll become? You just might already be there. You just might already be her.
So cheers to these last few days of summer and sand in the hair and ice cream for dinner and all the things moms. It wasn't always perfection, but literally every morning you woke up being exactly enough for your kids and I can't think of anything more perfect than that.
Embrace that end of summer you. Take her with you all year long.