Isn't that the thought weighing heavily on everyone's minds lately! How Many Summers Do You Have Left? That seems to be the topic of conversation with everyone I meet these days...perhaps it's because I'm the one always bringing it up. But even after I do, my friends chime right in with their own lamentations about how quickly time has flown in their families, too, and how few years there are left to fit it all the things that still have to be done.
Savannah is graduating in December, so this is our LAST summer with her! This may have been a big part of the reason for the impulsive Memorial Day church history trip. There are clearly NOT enough summers left for all the trips we wanted to take with the kids. When they were little, Craig always talked about taking a family vacation to France so the kids could see where he served his mission, and so his mission could see the kids! We haven't yet made it to France or to a lot of the places that were on that original list...Canada, New York, Washington DC, or...Hawaii! (ugh...how many Hawaiian kids do you know who have never been to Hawaii?? I'm pretty sure that's some kind of cultural irresponsibility that I'm going to be accountable for at some point in the future.)
It feels like I'm trying so hard lately to hang on to the little pieces of today without fretting too much about how they're going by faster than I would like them to. But as much as I try to suppress the desperation, I can still feel it lurking beneath the surface. Every shopping trip... Every last day of school tradition... Every family prayer... makes the countdown in my head more and more apparent. 18 years seems like a shockingly short amount of time when your oldest daughter is 17 1/2, and the others are not far behind.
But...as I was writing my very long comment on Amy's blog post, I had this little moment of clarity and personal revelation...
Craig and I may not have covered the whole list of stuff we wanted to accomplish before our kids leave the nest, but we've done a lot, and they have seen and experienced A LOT in those 17 1/2 years. They've been to the Everglades, Rushmore, Carlsbad Caverns, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Teton, and Yellowstone. They've slept in a tent, caught a fish, driven a golf cart and a tractor, and hiked for miles. They've seen oceans and mountains, lakes and deserts. They've experienced snow pants and snorkeling gear, ferries, cruise ships, and jet skis. They've seen alligators up close, had monkeys untie their shoes, and had a picnic with a bear. And in 2012 they saw the world's largest ball of twine! But while all those trips are definitely memorable and fun, they're not the only way we can make an impression on our kids. Even though our days are flying by and filled to the brim with so many demands and responsibilities, these kids are STILL HERE. No one has actually left yet.
Perhaps those unchecked adventures are still possibilities in our future. Maybe one of the kids will want to go to BYU Hawaii and we'll get to make a family trip out of setting up a college dorm room? Maybe we'll just have to take some sons-in-laws and a daughter-in-law with us to NY or DC. Maybe we'll take GRANDBABIES to DisneyWorld! Or...perhaps all the things we didn't get to do will become the things that make it on our kids' FUTURE bucket lists for their own families.
There are lots of stages of our lives that are over, and many exciting ones left to come, but oh, how happy I just am for today. For this summer. For these days. And for the way life looks at this moment.