Sunday, October 13, 2013

FYI: Fall is the new summer

Up until this year, if you asked me what my favorite season was, I'd say unequivocally, "Summer." I mean, who doesn't love summer? The kids are out of school, the days are long and hot, filled with splashy days at the pool, lunches on the patio, water gun fights, going for bike rides and playing flashlight tag.

Oh, wait. My kids aren't seven years old anymore.

Hence why, for more than the reasons stated above, my favorite season is no longer summer.

Here's the deal. Back in the day, meaning, the day when I wasn't working, summers were pretty chill. Now I'll admit, they're filled with more nostalgia and happy memories now that I can look BACK on them. At the time, I was a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) "just getting through the day." Then for a few summers, I was a SAHDMCICFAJ (Stay-at-home-divorced-mom-cuz-I-can't-find-a-job.) Not sure which was worse.

Anywho, back in the day, I was Champion Activity Director for my kids. We had a membership to the local pool, Wildlife Prairie Park and Lakeview Museum. I made sure we took advantage of all the free morning movies at the local theater and spent my afternoons making gallon after gallon of Kool-aid and filling water balloons for the neighborhood kids. We took bike rides before sunset and I saved all our peanut butter jars for firefly catching after dark. Honestly, we ate summer for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was my favorite three months out of the whole year.

So guess what? Once your kids reach the pre-teen and teenage years, they no longer want to hang at the pool with you. And they could care less about wild animals or educational exhibits. They're too old for the free morning movies and have moved up from Kool-Aid to Gatorade. The bikes sit unridden and the fireflies run rampant, with no one to catch them.

Yeah, my kids totally buzzkilled summer. 

I'll admit, my past few summers have been pretty crappy aside from their whole growing up and wanting nothing to do with me anymore. There was the "I'm moving and getting marri......wait... no I'm not" summer, followed by the "I'm working full time and I have no one to watch my kids so they're home alone and I feel so guilty" summer, and the most recent one, "I lost my job and my mom had a brain aneurysm and I spent two months at OSF" summer.

Honestly, I hung on to summer until the bitter end. But at the end of our three month ride this past year, I suddenly realized pretty much all I did was wax nostalgic about all the things I used to do with the kids but couldn't anymore. Sure, we made a few feeble attempts to go to the pool. If they didn't have friends there, they were bored and got pretty embarrassed when their 46-year-old mom challenged them to a cannonball contest off the diving board. My older kid suddenly developed an aversion to any temperature over 80 degrees, and my once tanned, freckle-faced boy remained a pasty, winter-white all throughout the summer season.

So you can see, among other reasons, why my allegiance has turned to fall. And it's just been this year. Once the kids got back in school and the leaves started changing and I'd walk the dog in that early morning chill, I began to feel a little sense of relief. Relief that summer was over and I didn't have to keep trying to relive my glory days of Mom of the Year any longer, nor did I have to lament the fact that no matter what the season, my kids are just fine staying inside, watching an Adventure Time marathon and playing Madden 13.

Now they're back in school - in someone else's hands to an extent. My younger son is playing football for the first year, so I have practices to drive to and from and games to cheer at every Saturday. Fall gives me an excuse to take three hours on a Sunday and sit on the couch and watch my Packers play. I'd NEVER do that in the summer. Fall means it's not too hot to sit with my mom out on the porch at the skilled care facility, or take a walk around the block with her and my dog.

Fall means big, bulky sweaters to cover the extra pounds I didn't lose over the summer, and long pants to conceal legs that could use a few more squats and lunges. It means not wondering WHEN I'm going to have time to mow the lawn, or throwing out flowers that I just never got a chance to water. It's opening the windows and having my CILCO bill be under $100.

For the first time, I drive through the countryside and see combines harvesting and leaves turning and feel the temperature dropping and I don't feel sad. I feel comforted. I can't really explain why, other than I look at summer now as a season to "get through." Now I look at approaching summer with a leery eye, wondering "What's going to happen to f&*k THIS summer up?" Fall? Fall is untouched. Fall is clean. Fall is good.

Welcome, Fall. I'm not a huge fan of the season that follows you up, nor of the one that precedes you. But you? You're pretty cool.

1 comment:

  1. Here in the Midwest, I still love summer, but I'm always happy when September gets here. back home, in Upstate NY< summer is it! You LOVE summer, because winters are so long. Summers are full of things to do and you take advantage of everything you can.

    The difference between back home and the Midwest is the heat. It's miserable. It sucks the life out of you and chases you into the air conditioned comfort of your house. I'll bet that on average, more television time is logged here in the Midwest than in Upstate NY and by far..

    So my favorites are split between April-May and September-October


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