Today is our last day of summer vacation; tomorrow begins a new school year.
Clothes are laid out, pencils are sharpened, backpacks are full of new books and clean paper. The anticipation of a fresh year buzzes between us like static electricity. You can feel the energy in the air.
It was a good summer and a busy one. My oldest is learning to drive. My younger two participated on our neighborhood swim team. We took a family vacation to Disney (our first and last) and enjoyed days at the lake tubing and fishing and gathering on the dock in the evening to watch the sunset.
Our home remained full of friends. There were sleepovers, art projects, x-box games, basketball in the driveway, and afternoons at the pool. And don’t forget the snacks, snacks, and more snacks.
But, this summer was different. It recently hit me that no one chased fireflies this year.
I saw the first flickers of light one evening and shouted to the kids, “The fireflies are out.”
“Really?” came the reply, but no one came rushing through the front door. I didn’t think much of it at the time.
It’s strange the way time passes quietly…the way one chapter rolls into the next without you even realizing it. Of course, there are life events that force us to pause and take notice such as the first day of each school year.
“Where has the time gone?” we ask each other as we post photos of our children alongside their grade levels.
Too often, though, the biggest moments in life happen without any fanfare.
No one says, “Hey, you need to grab a hold of this moment in time right here because it’s a big one. This is the last time your kids are going to chase fireflies together, the last time they are going to ask you to read them a story, the last time they will build a fort with their friends.”
It just happens.
You let the fireflies go and come in for the night. You clean up the fort. You close the book and turn out the bedroom light. Nothing clues you in that something of note is happening…the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. It all feels so normal, and tomorrow is just another day. You don’t realize that while nothing has changed everything is changing.
My husband and I were walking around our backyard a few weeks ago discussing some of the projects we hope to tackle this fall, and I made the casual comment, “You know, the kids don’t spend as much time out here anymore. They aren’t hunting bugs, or having Nerf gun wars, or playing in the sprinkler.”
I was simply making a statement, and yet, when did all that stop? Which summer was the last one?
It’s not a bad thing. Kids are meant to grow up, to put away their toys, and to lay aside their childhood games. I think it’s the sneakiness of time that feels wrong. The way moments subtly slip past us like a good friend leaving a party without saying goodbye.
I’m thankful for who my kids are today. It’s a joy to watch them grow and learn and become young adults. I enjoy our deeper conversations and can’t complain about their growing independence. This is good. This is the way life is supposed to happen.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3
We are always moving from one season to the next. Each season brings its mix of bittersweet. There’s necessarily a letting go of what was in order to grab hold of what is. Thankfully, we have a good Father who faithfully gives the new graces and fresh mercies needed to do both.
This summer is behind me. Next summer will be different still. Time keeps moving forward bringing change. Sometimes the changes are noticeable, sometimes they are discreet, but they are always occurring.
We didn’t chase fireflies this year. My kids are growing up and moving on to different things. But, the fireflies still come, and one day my children will chase them with their own kids or their nieces and nephews. Forts will be built. Sprinklers will be enjoyed under a hot summer sun.
And I’ll be thankful that some things never change.