I remember all too well what happened almost five years ago. My baby was preparing for his first day of kindergarten and I was a bawling mess. But I was good. I didn’t let him see me cry.
I dressed him up in a fancy outfit, pinned his nametag to his shirt so he wouldn’t get lost, and drove him to the bus stop for a long, painful, and teary goodbye.
But just like now, I didn’t quite have my stuff together in the morning. We were running late and just as we pulled up to the bus stop, so did the bus. We jumped out of the car, ran towards the yellow looming monster, and exchanged a quick hug goodbye. Then I sent my baby on his way without any fanfare at all.
For the next 7 hours, I watched the clock. I wondered what he was doing and how he must be feeling. It seemed like the longest. day. ever.
When he arrived home, he had had a wonderful day and loved his teachers but he certainly didn’t want to do it all over again. He didn’t want to leave me. He just wanted to stay home with Mommy all day. And although I wanted to wrap him in my arms and tell him he never had to go to that awful, yucky place ever again, I sent him back the next day. And the next. And we continued until October when there were no more tears and no longing to stay home.
Since that time, we’ve settled into a routine and managed our way through 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. And I thought that 5th grade would be smooth sailing. He’s 10. He’s got a well-established circle of friends and he knows the school like the back of his hand.
So why were we both in tears this weekend?
Recently, I wrote about the parenting challenges of having an only child. But it’s mostly good. It’s mostly easy, especially when you have a kid like mine.
He’s not the adventurous type. He’s more quiet and pensive and apprehensive about new situations and experiences. But we challenged that this summer and somehow spent one of the best summers either of us could remember.
This was the summer I decided to just say YES and do it. If I got work done, so be it. If I didn’t, that was okay. So I told my family we were going to a local event called Wings ‘n Wheels. I’m a fan of cars and my husband loves cars, planes, and motorcycles. It was time to bring Evan in to the fold. And he picked out one of his favorites. (His actual favorite was an original VW Camper van in mint condition!)
Next on my schedule was a trip to DC’s Comic Con, Awesome Con. I had planned to go with my podcasting partner, Shannon but my husband’s travel schedule made it necessary for Evan to tag along. If you’re going to a fan convention, I recommend taking along a 10 year old. Not only did he find his people but he knew more than I did!
Later that month, I had an invitation to bring my family for the weekend to Gaylord National Harbor. We dined, we danced (well, I did), and we walked around National Harbor having a hot but fun time.
Immediately after finishing up at the Gaylord, Evan and I headed up to Connecticut for a mother-son road trip courtesy of Nissan. I was shocked that he wanted to go on a long drive with me, spend the night in a fancy hotel, and then make the long drive back. But he did! In fact, he was giddy that I let him stay in the room and order room service!
We had another first this summer that might seem unusual. We took a family vacation.
Typically, we prefer to travel in the off-season when it’s cheaper and less crowded but we threw caution (and money) to the wind and planned a one week stay in Maine. I’m not sure there was a single complaint the entire week. The weather, the food, the sites, the scenery – it was definitely worth every penny.
Just as we were back from Maine, I surprised the family with tickets to go see one of our very favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan. His show in Hershey was so much cheaper than in other venues that I scored third row seats for a bargain price!
For years, we’ve been talking about going south to my old stomping grounds in Calvert County to look for fossils and shark teeth. This summer, I told him we were doing it. The weather and the tide schedules aligned and we make a trek south to Calvert Cliffs State Park where we found… the world’s smallest shark’s tooth. But we finally did it!
Then there was our mother-son camping trip. We had injuries and rain and a lack of firewood get in our way but we survived a whole night outside in the wilderness!
August in Maryland means time for one of our favorite fairs – the Howard County Fair. We looked at animals, ate really bad (but delicious) food, and ogled at weird vegetables and artwork entered into the fair competition.
I spent plenty of time doing car reviews this summer which meant I planned excursions for us to test out the ride. One trip was rained out so we planned an alternate itinerary and ended up visiting the National Cryptologic Museum right after I treated Evan to his first vegan meal (despite this picture, he really did enjoy it).
And finally, to squeeze every last bit of fun and sunshine out of the remaining days of summer, we took a trip up to New York to visit my friend (and travel writing partner), Susan. Evan insisted he didn’t like going to the beach. So we went to the beach. He said he didn’t like riding on boats. So we went out on a boat. But we laughed and ate and had a wonderful time like we always do at Susan’s house.
And on the way home, I passed through Brooklyn to visit Dead Horse Bay, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. We were underwhelmed but can cross it off my bucket list now!
It wasn’t all extravagant travel though. My mother insists we’re never home. I insist it’s because I only post on social media when I’m someplace fabulous doing something fabulous! When we were home (which was a lot), we spent a lot of time going to the movies and discovering new shows we like, heading to the local pool, tending to our garden and reaping the harvest, and goofing off at the local DIY art studio.
As this past weekend came to a close, I did the unthinkable. With tears in my eyes, I interrupted Evan’s video game playing and told him how much I was going to miss him. And he told me the same. Lots of tears and apprehension but this morning when he woke up, he told me he was kind of excited about his first day of 5th grade.
Whether you’re missing your kids or not missing your kids today, my advice to you to make sure you make the most of the time you have. Enjoy summer, create memories, and let them miss you just a little bit when they go back to school.