Friday, April 18, 2014

This is the Summer of Your Life

This is the summer of your life.

It is a season of discovery.

In the summer of you life, you find that you are now a wife, a mother, an aunt, a daughter-in-law, a chauffer, a cook, a janitor, a gardener, a financial planner, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on.

It is a season of getting lost.

In the summer of your life, you often don’t recognize the “you” from the Spring.
You used to be the kind of person who could leave the house on a moment’s notice.
You used to be the kind of person who didn’t know the lyrics to the Wonder Pets theme song.
You used to be the kind of person who shut the bathroom door when using the toilet.
In the summer of your life, you become overly fond of the term “personal time.”
You lose yourself in passionate discussions about grocery shopping, napping schedules, and dishwashing detergent.
You listen to talk radio and are an active member of the PTA.
You have the sneaking suspicion that you are becoming someone you know intimately. This person may or may not be your mother.

It is a season of wonder.

In the summer of your life, the rituals of childhood are rediscovered:  you tip your head back and watch the rain fall, you capture spiders and potato bugs in Mason jars, you race barefoot across a field of grass. You delight in the first snowfall and claps of thunder and howling wind. You have waffles for dinner and watch your son fill each square depression up to the brim with syrup, just as you did as a child. You read Goodnight Moon and Charlotte’s Web. The delicious words of Dr. Seuss spill out of your mouth like candy.

It is a season of indignity.

In the summer of your life, you spend September to March with silvery snot trails on the shoulder of your shirts.
You yell in the supermarket.
You drive a mini-van.
You may or may not wear pants that qualify as “mom jeans.”
While browsing the internet you see a story with the headline: How the Duggars Keep Their Marriage Alive. You turn your head to make sure know one’s watching, and then, your personal time confirmed, you read the story.

It is a season of repetition.

In the summer of your life, you wake one morning to shower, door open, of course, and your eyes stray to the bottle of Pantene in your hand. You wonder when the instructions on the back of a shampoo bottle became the motto for your life. Wash. Rinse. Repeat if desired. Your life is a series of tasks that are repeated, sometimes out of desire, but most often out of necessity.

Dishes are washed, counters are wiped down, bottoms are diapered, children are driven to and from school, carpets are vacuumed. Laundry becomes a dirty word.  Other dirty words may or may not be repeated.  You become adept at repeating orders. No exodus from the house is achieved without multiple calls to “Get on your socks and shoes.”
“No one listens to me,” you say plaintively.
This is also repeated.

It is a season of ritual.

In the summer of your life, you gain a reverence for the sacred art of mothering. You are equal partner with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. You are the memory-maker and the memory keeper. You are the heart of the home. You are the gardener, and you find the bulbs you planted in your youth spring forth and flower.
You dress your baby girl in the same white blessing dress you wore as an infant, and see the promise of other ordinances to follow: baptism, confirmation, sealing. You hear echoes of your mother, and her mother, as you make a pie crust, wrap a gift, tend to a sick child. Your bookshelf holds your Grandmother’s orange-spined Childcraft books. On a rainy afternoon, you pluck one from the shelf and read your children Winken, Blinken, and Nod, the cadence of the poem comfortingly familiar.

It is a season of activity.

In the summer of your life you are on the go. You shuttle kids to doctor’s appointments, soccer practices, and parent teacher conferences. A mother’s work is never done – including but not limited to the laundering of clothes.  

It is a season to ponder.

In the summer of your life there is time to ponder. You take up reading. You read while you nurse the baby. You read while your children play at the park. You read into the wee hours of the night.

From Somerset Maugham you read that when love and duty are combined, then you will enjoy a happiness that passes all understanding.
The shampoo was right: it is about desire.
You change the baby’s diaper with love.
You shovel the snow from the driveway with love.
You mop the kitchen floor with love.

From the New Testament you read that Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. You pause one evening while setting the dinner table, and listen to your children’s laughter as they play together in the front room, and keep the moment.

From the Doctrine and Covenants you read that Christ descended below all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth. You launder the clothes. You clean the bathroom. You attend to a sick child. In your own humble, meager way, you ascend.

It is a season of longing.

In the summer of your life, you long for the independence of Spring.
You long for uninterrupted sleep.
You long for the time when the prospect of wearing a swim suit did not invoke a mild panic attack.
You long to be the perfect homemaker, like Martha Stewart before she went to prison.
You long to realize the dreams you held in your youth: You long to write a book, travel the world, make a guest appearance on the Ellen show.
In the summer of your life, you long for the wisdom of Autumn. You long for the knowledge required to raise a child, to sustain a marriage.
In the summer of your life, you long for more personal time.
You long for less children. You long for more children. You see a promo for the Duggars’ reality show19 kids and counting. How do they do it? You ask yourself.
You lament the predictability of your life: Dishes, laundry, carpool.
You indulge a daydream and imagine yourself as the star of your own reality show.
At the first commercial break, you change the channel.

It is a season of contentment.

In the summer of your life, you are reconciled to the fact that you do not now, nor will you ever, look like Beyonce. You have accepted that your voice is high and your hair is fine. In many ways, the summer of your life is more modest than the future you imagined in your youth. There is no castle on the hill, no knight in shining armor. Just a home – 3 beds, 2 baths, a kitchen that is bright with sunshine in the afternoon.  On a cold winter’s night in the summer of your life, you find yourself snuggled together with your family - a puzzle of arms and legs of which you are a key piece. And you realize that it is enough, perhaps more than enough. You settle into the sofa and seize every happiness you can from this moment, this day, this season of your life.