It's essentially summer here in South Florida. Each afternoon taps out at ninety degrees with a heat index that convinces you that your flesh will likely melt off. We've been spending a lot of time in the water whenever we can and I keep having to remind myself that it's only March. I have a hint of anxiety about this upcoming summer, with Ethan turning four. We will be redshirting him which means he will not be starting Pre-K with his similarly aged friends this fall. When I first learned I was expecting Ethan and in those first months of his life, the ones where he was an infant who slept in my arms and dirty bottles piled up as the laundry now does, this was the summer that I dreaded. It was the summer that was supposed to signify his last with me, his last one in the safety of my arms and our home and my care. I had been dreading this summer and then eventually shifting that dread to worry. Eventually I learned that it was a choice I had, as his parent, and we were spared for one more year. One more summer to enjoy in it's entirety, one last hot, sticky season to unfold into a fall of familiarity and classes set around our blue Ikea tot school table. A reprieve.
As a parent, we are inundated with silly sayings and heartstring-tugging blog posts that center around a similar message: "please don't grow up." I don't like to buy into the "don't grow up" or "forever young" culture because, well, having a child who is able to grow up and move on and tackle the world is a gift. One that I know what it's like to lose, so one that I cherish immensely. Sometimes my desire to redshirt Ethan is misconstrued as such, as me not wanting to let go of perhaps the only living baby that I will ever have. This isn't true. While, no, I do not want to let go of my baby, I certainly wouldn't be selfish enough to stifle his future. After all, every sacrifice and wish and dream and hope his father and I have ever had is solely based upon our desire to give him the world.
Still, I am grateful for this reprieve. I am grateful for another summer (or spring) with sticky sunscreen hugs and park jaunts and washing sweat out of tangled, grassy hair each night. I spent so long prematurely feeling my heart break in anticipation over this summer that I think it's still trying to understand that it's going to be okay. There's still time.