I look at the ground and see a few brown leaves have already fallen from the trees. It’s a beautiful day, warm and humid, but I find myself feeling sad because I know summer is nearing its end. Sure, it will still be summer in September, but I’ve always considered August to be the conclusion of the season. Perhaps it’s because school typically starts in September here in the Northeast, and soon I’ll see kids in their coats and hats waiting at the bus stop. I don’t want to start looking for fall clothing, or hoping for a nice warm day in between the cold ones. I’m not ready.
I look at my little girl, and despite the stereotype of the “terrible two’s,” know that this summer has been far from terrible. It’s our third summer together and clearly the best one yet. This summer she’s old enough to speak in sentences, enjoy rides, swimming in pools, yet still too young for spending days at camp; still too young to not need me by her side. This summer was just for us. Though she won’t remember, I’ll never forget the summer she was two.
I realized last summer was only just the beginning. She’d only just started walking, and I spent much of my time hovering over her wobbly little body as she tried to figure out mobility. This summer’s been a brave new world. It’s been one of watching my little one confidently run, jump, and climb the stairs. I’ve sat in awe as she braved the sixteen-foot inflatable slide at the town festival and heard her scream with delight the entire way down.
I looked on in terror as she scaled the rock wall at the playground and grasped the hands of two older girls who helped her reach the very top. Yes, this summer my heart beat with fear, and pride. I’ve jumped alongside her on trampolines and run with her through sprinklers, all while watching that never-ending joker grin pasted on her face. This is the summer she began asking me to hold her hand wherever we go, making me never want to let go.
This summer, I sat in a lounge chair at the community pool with my little girl posed in the chair next to me, sipping on a juice with her legs crossed like a little lady. She built sandcastles at the beach and confidently sprinted toward the water, unaware of any harm, with my husband rushing after her. I heard her say, “Thank you mommy,” for the first time in her sweet little voice when I rescued an escaped balloon from drifting to the clouds.
It was this summer she began the wonderful habit of climbing into bed with me to snuggle, watching television before her bedtime. I’ll always remember how she ran to the stairs once her father arrived home to tell him all she could remember from our day, using her ever-growing vocabulary. I’ll hold dear the night she slipped a photo of herself under my closed bedroom door whispering, “A present!” to let me know she was outside waiting for me to join her. These moments are perfect, and fleeting, day by day.
This summer she counted to fourteen, recited her colors, and told me what she wanted to eat with perfect clarity. She squealed when we heard the ice cream truck drive into the playground parking lot. We shared my favorite childhood treat, the strawberry shortcake, which she proclaimed as “delicious”. I woke up nearly every morning to the sound of her singing in her crib and was greeted by laughter when I entered her nursery.
She made me notice things I’d normally take for granted. I saw her take on a look of awe as she watched a butterfly soar, light up when she discovered a field of dandelions, and dance when she heard music blasting from passing cars, never taking any moment for granted.
I may not have successfully potty trained her this season, or tried teaching her to write, but staying inside can wait for fall. There is no such thing as an endless summer, and I’m making every single day last. Every day with sunshine, we will be out on a new adventure, because soon this one will be over. It’s been the summer of first times, new discoveries, and happiness. Of course there were tough moments, minutes of frustration, and fear. There always are, but I know I’ll never remember them when looking back.
There will be more summers to come, filled with new experiences, realizations and adventures, but I know they won’t be the same. Next year, she’ll join camps, pre-school, and activities she’ll do on her own. Though I’ll be happy to watch her grow, I know I’ll miss the days when it was just her and me.
When I think back, I will remember the year that summer seemed like an eternal vacation. The summer I got to experience the magic of childhood all over again, seeing the world through the big, bright eyes of my two-year-old girl. Soon it will all be over. This summer of beauty, discovery, and joy will become a series of snapshots and memories I’ll remember as some of the most treasured. This is the summer of two.