Labor Day is upon us and that means it’s time for another end-of-summer post from yours truly. In previous years, I talked about whether or not I succeeded in enjoying my summer (I was 1 for 2 over the past two years, if anyone is keeping score).
This summer we experienced a changing family dynamic.
Our children are not children anymore. They are active, growing people, with their own agendas. My older son is working now, starting to drive and making his plans. My younger son keeps himself busy with sports, camps, friends and video games.
This is all well and good but for the nagging feeling that my family unit is unraveling. Where is the togetherness that I enjoy? Where is the nucleus my husband and I spent so many years cultivating?
Where? On a golf course and a swimming pool. Separate from us and each other. Out with friends. Always out with friends. Many nights this season my husband and I found ourselves alone. While there’s something to be said for this new parental freedom (we also have friends we love to see), I still pine for the four of us around a dinner table or on a couch at the close of the day.
I know as they get older, things are going to continue to change. In two years, we’ll be taking one to college. Two years later, the other. Gone are the days when I can pack my boys into the car and take them to the beach, or to visit their grandparents for full afternoons, or to get ice cream. Now they want to jump on the Fire Island ferry to spend time with friends. Or golf. With friends. Or go to parties. With friends.
We’ve been replaced. My husband and I are no longer the center of their world.
By the beginning of August, we had not taken a family vacation. Everyone was too busy, committed to Driver’s Ed, camp, work, practices and games. Exasperated, we booked a last-minute trip, jumped on a plane and headed to our beloved Longboat Key.
Five days alone with our boys. The four of us. Together. No friends. We went tubing, jet-ski’d, swam with dolphins, saw our first 4-foot turtle in the Gulf, our first manatee, played Marco Polo (for hours), ate dinners out. It was perfect, not because of all we did, though each experience was wonderful, but because we had only each other. We laughed and talked and had fun. It was exactly what we needed. Just a reminder of who we are and what’s most important.
Within an hour of returning home, I dropped my son at work. The other headed for his videos. Back to reality. But for a little while, they were still ours and no one else’s.
Everything changes, I get it. It’s a part of life. But sometimes I just want to hold on, grab a smidgeon of days gone by. It’s as possible as holding water in my hand. But it won’t stop me from trying.