Summer Adventures & A New Phase Of Life

August 17, 2011 in North America, Travelogue, United States

As I sit to write this I’m shocked by the calendar date: August 17th. Where has this summer gone?

I know, of course, it’s gone into road trips back and forth to Canada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. It’s gone into long campfire evenings and guitar music with friends from Guatemala, paddle boat race victories, long poolside afternoons with a parade of loved ones, weeks with chosen family, and lots and lots of hours of trip planning.

The camper is quiet this week.

For the first time in 13 years I have only two children in the house. I haven’t had only two children in my care since six months after Gabe was born and our sweet nephew Ben came to stay awhile. Elisha was number three, but really number four. I’ve always had a tribe, it seems.

Two nights ago Tony and I ate dinner with only Elisha and realized that it was the first meal we’d shared only with him in his entire life. We celebrated by playing a game of Settlers of Catan while we waited on Ezra to return from his Kempo lesson. Elisha beat us soundly, proudly.

We’re entering a new phase of life.

We felt it beginning in February when Miss Hannah took off with her friends to backpack for a week in Belize without us. This summer we realize that life is irrevocably changing. We’re entering the pre-launch phase of parenthood. Our big kids are branching out, having their own adventures without us, and it’s bittersweet.

Gabe is in Indiana for three weeks, working on Good Life Farm, as an intern. He’s putting in long days learning to grown lettuce hydroponically, picking field crops and tending to sheep and horses. He swore he’d call every day (of his own volition) and he did… for the first two days. He’s living dorm style with other college age interns and working like a man, following his passion: farming. It’s all he’s ever wanted to do.


Hannah blew out of here with a kiss and a wave on Monday morning for Pennsylvania with a trio of her best girlfriends, who she met in the Czech. I haven’t heard word one from her, and that’s okay. She doesn’t need me. She hasn’t in quite some time, and I’m good with that. She’ll breeze back in on the train through NYC by herself next week loaded down with two instruments and her tiny pink backpack. Clothes are less important than music in her world.

Elisha and Ezra have been an interesting duo this month.

They’ve never been alone together, out of the shadow of their older siblings. Elisha has risen to the occasion of “big boy” of the house and has proven himself capable and cheerful under the additional workload left in the vacuum of the big kids absence.

Ezra is enjoying the quiet. The bane of his existence is being told what to do by five people up stream and now he’s down to just three. This is a good thing, in his estimation. He’s enjoying the extra spoiling that’s going on as this Mama holds the two she’s got left a little extra close and treats them before they’re gone too.

I’ve spent the quiet week finishing up plans for The Mama Bus trip. We leave in 13 short days.

I’ve also done my best to button up school plans for the coming year and it’s been another exercise in the evaporation of time. I’ve helped my friend organize her kindergarten year while I simultaneously organize Hannah’s last official year of high school. My little pink, pig-tailed elf has evaporated like morning mist before my very eyes. She can’t wait to be sixteen… not because she’ll get a driver’s license… but because she’ll officially be allowed to cross international borders alone. She’s outta here.

Many of my friends have already launched a few (or all) of their kids and I’m looking upstream and watching how those who’ve done it gracefully managed the tightrope walk.

For me, it’s new and exciting. I’m determined not to be one of those Moms who clings, or cries too much, or guilts them in any way.

Instead I’m polishing my pom-poms, and trying hard to get out of the way so that as they take these little hops leading to that last big leap that’s fast approaching they will make the jump at a fast run with wings plenty strong to soar up over my head and FLY for all their worth.

Until then, I have a renewed determination to suck the marrow from every second we’ve got left… and we’re down to seconds over here. In subtle ways we’ve turned a corner and life will never be the same… but it just keeps getting better.