This opinion piece was first published on September, 7th 2016

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do, once you find them
-Jim Croce
-Lyrics from “Time in a Bottle”

I’m pretty sure we can all agree this summer was the fastest summer ever; and a beautiful one, with endless beach and pool day weather. But, then again, as each year passes, our time perspective causes us to believe each grain of sand is falling more quickly. As time piles up behind us, this perspective is inevitable.

For me, the changing of seasons always elicits a bit of melancholy. Perhaps, it’s the realization of this passage of time or the reminder that nothing lasts forever that dulls any change-of-season joy I might feel. This wistful feeling was particularly strong this Labor Day.

If you live in MetroWest Massachusetts and had your windows open in the early evening on Monday, then maybe you also had that “change-of-season” pensiveness. Beautiful noises came from outside; the wind chased through the still green leaves, perhaps taking an early test run at the foliage. Crisp air brushed past the screens of open windows and into my house. Even though still a few weeks shy, it felt like fall. And there it was- that feeling in my stomach, heart, and mind, acknowledging the passage of yet another summer.

But, it wasn’t just the change of the season that had me sad, it was the realization that after all I’ve learned from losing my husband to cancer, I took the summertime for granted. I was now realizing time had apathetically ticked away another quarter year of our lives. And so, as our youth enter another year of their education, I am reflecting on the major schooling I received from life and two little boys this summer.

I sold our family business before the summer began. And so, this was the first summer I’ve spent without being tethered to the moving industry and where I was able to be the daily caregiver to my two boys. In fact, this year was the opposite from most. This summer, for all intents and purposes, I was a carefree stay-at-home mom.

But, let’s be honest, carefree it is not. At times it can be an impossible job. My youngest now insists that the only way he can enter a restaurant is via somersault. Their new “playful” game called battle, i.e., wrestling, inevitably ends after a maximum of 15 minutes in a crescendo of yelling and then someone crying. Not to worry, they start a new game about every other ten minutes. They are HIGH energy boys. And, my authority frequently goes unnoticed; it’s ridiculous. It isn’t until I make the loud scary cheerleader voice that I get any sort of respect. I was starting to wish more than anything that the first day of school would come and give me a break.

This summer reinforced a fact I already knew; I am not a perfect mom. In fact, I so desperately want to see “Bad Moms,” but am slightly terrified I’ll discover it’s really a documentary and cameras have been following me around all summer. Yikes. What fodder they would have! I frequently lose my patience. I am a perfectionist, high strung, and I yell. The sound of competing children’s whistles and harmonicas turn me into Archie Bunker. I buy and cook with organic when I can. Oh, what the hell, nix the organic, the sentence should be, I cook when I can. And BTW, I consider PB&J cooking. I become overwhelmed and occasionally cry. I put out IPads and cereal on Saturday morning. I love, no, depend on wine at the end of a tough day.  I… I… I…

But, there’s no such thing as perfect- right? One thing is for sure, I try.

And I know from talking with other moms that we all try. I’m not the only one throwing away any instrument that requires lung power when the kids aren’t looking. Being a stay-at-home parent is hard as hell, being a single stay-at-home parent is even harder. There were times I considered reneging on the sale of my business and hiding in the agony of the busy moving season. But, then there were those beautiful moments- those glorious moments that make parenting worth it. And on Labor Day evening, reminiscing about the fun we had over the summer amidst the seemingly autumnal weather made me extraordinarily reflective. And so, while the summer reminded me of my parenting imperfections, it also my underlined my love for the job.

I like to think if cameras actually were following me around this summer, they would see me “trying” and loving it. Because despite my “bad mom” moments, I know we’ve had just as many special moments filled with hugs and giggles. Because that is what parenting is- an emulsion of good and challenging moments that suspended together form an intense emotional bond.

As I packed their lunches on a windy evening and printed a “First Day of Kindergarten” sign, I couldn’t swallow. Our special summer had ended. I had practically wished away the past week when I should have been wishing for more time.

On their first day of school, I sent my little two little super balls into a rainy day and onto their first school bus ride. I was very productive while they were gone. I got through lots of mail, completed awaiting documentation, did a little cleaning, and continuously contemplated how I could have made their summer better. But, I quickly remembered something I’ve known for a while; there’s never enough time.

Each moment is limited, unique, and permanent. We need to be inspired, not overwhelmed by these moments. They are only little kids. I need to learn to laugh at the somersaults (at least the first) and not to let these moments get me so flustered.

So, when I saw those two little goofballs get off the school bus, my heart fluttered. It was only a day, but I had missed them terribly.

We had a great afternoon, filled with laughter and exuberance. But, their behavior really wasn’t different than any other day. Their usual antics were raising the corners of my mouth, rather than my shoulders and blood pressure. I was so glad to see such energy and happiness. So happy to have another afternoon with them. So glad I remembered the life’s lesson I should have never forgotten.

We all know before we turn around the leaves will all be gone, and our afternoons will be shorter. I’ll be cooking (aiming for more than PB&J), and dealing with the challenge of homework or maybe a little game of battle before dinner. I would put money on the fact that our house has not heard the last of the scary cheerleader voice.

One thing is for certain; I am going to continue to try. I am going to try to treasure every day. Because I’m pretty sure one of these times I turn around, those two boys are going to be grown men, gone and living their own lives. And I there I will be, an old woman listening to the rustling leaves and wishing I could empty from the bottle those very days I tried to wish away.

Thank you for reading,

Featured Image is Original Artwork, Two Inspirations, by Katie Berggren.