I feel like the roller coaster known as “Summer of 2014” just screeched to a halt, and I’m getting off now, holding my stomach, calming my jittery nerves, squinting into the sunlight, and thinking, Damn! What a ride!
It was fun and exhilarating; wild and exhausting; but nervewracking, busy, frantic.
And it all flew by in a blur.
The wildness of the summer started in May, was punctuated by a multitude of milestone birthdays and events, and ran all the way to Labor Day. Here are the highlights:
- May 3 – Oldest son turns 21: party? gift? We didn’t know what to do. (It’s not like we saw this coming for 21 years, right?…)
- May 16 – Oldest son finishes second-semester of college: airport, re-configuring space at home, buying more groceries, planning family get-togethers, figuring out transportation for a new job 26 miles away, what to do for his birthday, etc.
- May 24 – Sis-in-law turns 50: milestone birthday, fun 2-day party, photos galore, etc. Her birthday party turns into the see-oldest-son-home-and-wish-him-a-happy-21st-birthday moment for the whole family.
- June – Middle daughter child graduates from high school: party? gift? It’s not like we saw this coming for 12 years of school, right? … We ended up knee-deep in announcements, math tutoring, photos, banquets, party planning, friends, prom, grad gown rental, shop for her shoes/dresses, grad night, etc., etc. And yeah, we planned a party.
- July 1 – My first book launch! Egads! Craziness! Facebook contests, blog posts, interviews, social media, writing to friends, contacting relatives, watching stats, signing books, doing newsletters, etc., etc. This went on for a month, overlapping all these other things.
- July 14 – My job moves from Mission Viejo to Newport Beach: packing, unpacking, learning a new drive route, figuring out lunches, changing youngest son’s schedule, getting up earlier, more time on the road, etc., etc.
- July 28 – Father-in-law turns 70: another milestone birthday, another fun 3-day birthday party, photos galore.
- August – Middle daughter getting ready to go away to college, along with oldest son: packing, following lists, boxes all over the dining room, going through daughters room/ closet/ clothes/ drawers for what she needs to bring, shopping for bedding, cords, lamps, rugs, wastebaskets, shower caddies, desk supplies, etc.
- August 9 – Middle daughter child turns 18: party? gift? (It’s not like we saw this coming for 18 years, right? But somehow I didn’t see all these milestones in the same year!) She’s already swept up in college-getting-ready, though, and hasn’t looked back — doesn’t want a big celebration, just wants to get stuff for college.
- August 14-16 – Last-minute appointments for college kids: vaccines, eye exams, contact lenses, glasses updates, etc.
- August 16-17 – My two older kids saying goodbye to extended family: pizza, playing games, photos, fun
- August 20 – Road trip to college with the whole family: packing, planning, buying travel items, booking hotels, finalizing registration, finalizing orientation, paperwork, maps, organizing week off from work, etc.
- August 23 – We return home, just the three of us. We reorganize the chaos we left in daughter’s bedroom and dining room from the crazy last-minute packing, then get ready to return to work.
- August 26 – Second book’s cover reveal: more promo, blog post, Facebook posts, etc.
- Sept 4 – Youngest starts sophomore year in high school
- Now – Take some deep breaths! Step off the roller coaster. Summer 2014 is over!
Maybe that’s why I’m so happy about September.
California Sunset / Photo by Nate Sanchez
I don’t love getting older. But one good thing about having passed a certain number of decades is that you become much more confident about certain things. Here are a few things I’m finally old enough to know. …
- Patience is truly a virtue – and one of the best ones to get you through life. Patience can make you a great parent and a great spouse.
- Respect is the key to every relationship. Respect your spouse. Respect your kids. Respect your coworkers. Respect the guy who pours your water at the restaurant. If you project your respect with honesty and sincerity, it comes back to you tenfold.
- The way you talk to your kids when they’re young (yelling or not, swearing or not, with patience or not, with respect or not) is exactly the way they’ll talk to you when they’re about 13. And then forever after.
- You can’t be everything to everyone.
- It’s okay to say no.
- It’s important to learn what your boundaries are and then set them early in every relationship, from friendships to work.
- Childhood friends are to be cherished. No one will ever know you better than your childhood friends. You were your purist, un-formed self with them.
- Everyone has obstacles in life. Never assume you’ve had a harder day or a harder life than the person standing next to you.
- You never regret a family getaway.
- Getting out of your own neck of the woods – for even just a day or a night – reminds you of how big the world is, and how people live differently than you. Not better or worse, just different. It makes the world open up, and then your mind.
What about you? What’s your favorite thing you’re old enough to know?
Ah, the end of the school year. This is where things get really crazy. Turning in books, verifying grades, trying to scramble for that last “B,” banquets, parties, permission slips, yearbooks, school dances, teacher gifts, dress-shoes for promotions … the list goes on and on. Moms everywhere know what I’m talking about.
Rene is in a showdown with a crazy retiring-in-two-minutes teacher who has left the entire class bewildered with “missing assignments” notes when she left for some kind of surgery and has never returned. The substitutes have been bewildered also. The kids have all been glumly picking up slips for summer school. But there might be a knight in shining armor who swooped in to finish the last two weeks as the “permanent substitute” (there’s a fun phrase). And here’s the kicker – he had this same teacher years ago when he was at the school! So he feels very sympathetic toward the students and says he believes in “transparency” and “online grades” (thank you, sir!) and has vowed to get all their grades online so they can check to see what they’re really missing and if they’ve perhaps already turned it in. So, with 1 week left, we’re ending on a cliffhanger, here. I hope everything works out for Rene.
Nathan, meanwhile, is experiencing spring fever like I’ve never seen a child experience spring fever. My two older kids have always really liked school, and seem to stay motivated until the end. But this child. … hmmm … He just wants to head to the beach every single day. Since about May 1. Poor dude. But he’s almost done, too. We remind him of the countdown every day.
Summer, oh summer – We can’t wait to see you next week!
P.S. I also think we must be the LAST district out for summer???
Okay, another busy, successful week just ended for the kids: We had Senior Awards Night in the high school gym one evening; Ricky had his senior dinner-dance cruise another evening; Nate brought home all his art projects; and the kids have had various late-starts and strange finals-taking schedules, so we’re coordinating rides around here like a well-run taxi service. There are a few more things left (graduation practice, Nate’s class going on a group field trip, Rene’s “fiesta” at school, 6th grade clap-out, 6th grade promotion, graduation, Grad Night, and a family party for Ricky — all being planned in the midst of Father’s Day and an 8-day roadtrip that I’m planning like a Lewis and Clark explorer), but then we’re done!
This is definitely the busiest spring I’ve ever had as a parent! Good thing it’s not always like this.
But — who knows — I’ll probably look back on it and think it’s shame it’s not always like this. …
So, … April.
What a terrible month.
April was like some terrible houseguest, showing up all gloomy, staying much too long. She drained our bank accounts, broke our computer, blew up one engine of one car, which led to a craziness of driving schedules for five people so we could share cars and drive everyone where they needed to go. She brought despair over colleges, panic over college costs, worry about the future college careers of our next two kids. She crashed our hard drive, broke our garbage disposal, and then FINALLY – in a sweep of relief one weekend – left.
May is better.
She’s a better houseguest. She’s quiet, polite and letting us get our lives back together.
May can stay for awhile.
(… at least for another 2-1/2 weeks.)