This column goes out to all the summer warrior moms.
You know who you are. The moms who planned vacations, slathered sunscreen, almost passed out blowing up floaties and spent countless hours this summer getting splashed by that inexplicably obnoxious kid in the pool who Just. Won't. Quit.
You are the moms who valiantly enforced chores and workbooks and reading before screen time even though what you really wanted to do was turn on Netflix and — heaven forbid — get a moment to yourself to actually complete a thought.
And now, as the summer comes to a close, you are the tired moms. You are the ones who have had it with picking up string cheese wrappers off the floor because your children eat 300 snacks a day and still can't find the trashcan. You are the moms who don't want to clean the kitchen for the umpteenth time only to have muddy feet track across it.
You are the moms who wonder how it's possible to have three children and 15 cups on the counter by the end of the day. (For real, though, the math just does not add up).
Yes, as this summer ends, you tell yourself you still love your children. You do, you really do. But if you hear one more fight over who got what first or who did what to whom, you may just show up at the school a few days early and shove them out of the minivan with a sleeping bag and a kiss.
To all those moms, you've done it. You've survived. School is within sight and another summer is almost in the books.
As I've contemplated that fact for the past few days, I've been filled with a mix of sadness and relief. Three months is a long time to be together all day, every day. So in some ways, I'm ready for schedules and car pools and brief, fleeting moments of quiet.
But I'm also sad to see another summer end, particularly after my husband brought it to my attention yesterday that my oldest daughter only has eight more summers with us as a child. And even then, by the time she gets to high school, her summers will be spent more outside the home than in.
Talk about a gut punch. We're more than halfway there.
That fact kind of floored me and made me think how these years of being a mom to young children are flying by me. It's true that the days are long but the years are swift. And before I know it, that final summer will come — and go — and I'll be looking back on 18 summers, wondering where they went.
So even though like all you summer warrior moms out there, I'm more than happy to bid farewell to bickering and multiplying cups and constant chaos, I'm also sad to see another summer — another year — come to a close.
Because when that first day of school hits, it's over. The lazy, bathing-suit-only days of summer morph into the overscheduled days of fall. We move on to a new year, new grade, and our kids grow up just a little bit more.
So in these last few days of summer, squeeze it in. Lay in the grass. Splash that annoying kid back in the pool. Eat popsicles for dinner and run through sprinklers until the sun goes down. Hold on tight to the last rays of sunshine and your sun-kissed babies because we only get so many days, so many summers, until both are gone.