I can feel summer slipping through my fingers like the ice cream melting down my son’s hand next to me. We’re sitting on the porch after another long and busy work day. After daycare pickup, I tried to salvage what energy we all had, but my preschooler is grouchy, hot, and tired, and I am too. Everyone will head to bed soon, even though it’s still light out, and I can’t shake the feeling that we’re missing summer.
I personally love the season. The 90-degree days and hours of sunshine are life-giving when you live in a Midwestern state. You must strategically soak up the vitamin D and store it away for the dark and gloomy months that seem to drag on endlessly for the rest of the year in Indiana.
It never feels like there’s enough time, though. The 4th of July has come and gone, signaling that summer is on its way out the door. The days are already getting shorter, and the school supplies are out.
It seems like this happens every year. I have big intentions and plans. We see friends and say, “let’s get it on the calendar before school starts!” But everything moves so quickly, and before I know it, it’s the end of July. The bucket list items sit untouched, and the vacations I had planned in my head will be on the agenda for next year. I meant to go to the Farmer’s Market more. Everyone else went to Holiday World. I planned to get to a handful of different splash pads, we’ve barely been back to the library for the summer reading program, and we missed the county fair.
I want to hold onto this time forever. The sweaty, red cheeks, hair standing straight up with the day’s sunscreen. Ice cream covered lips and fingers at 10 pm. The daylight hanging on for dear life, air still thick with humidity and heat from the day. But despite the longer days, it feels impossible to fit it all in between June and July.
It’s when I scroll through my phone that night that I find them, the photos.
There are sprinkler runs with neighbors, zoo days, bike rides, the 10 pm ice cream nights, and that spontaneous camping trip in Grammy’s front yard. There are plenty of Indians games on a weeknight, pool days with friends, swim lessons, and porch hangs at our house. Maybe these weren’t big vacations or the bucket list items I had dreamed up on a freezing cold Indiana winter day. They are memories I’ll have forever and pull out from time to time on those long, winter Midwestern nights.
In my 4-year-old’s eyes, they might as well be bucket list items. I can see the pure joy on his sweaty, red face in these pictures, and I remember that the joy doesn’t exist because of a bucket list or a vacation. My preschooler doesn’t really even know that Holiday World exists. Heck, he doesn’t even know what a bucket list is. That’s me comparing my life to others on social media. When it seemed small to me, it was enchanting to my preschooler. The joy came from childhood, the simplicity of summer, and being together as a family.
What I see instead is that the joy was right here.