A mother’s ode to summer

Oh, summer
Most favored of seasons
Bursting forth with sunshine through clouds
Life teeming in lakes, rivers and flowerbeds
Your warmth melting away all memory of harsh winter.

And yet, as you stretch out before me
I feel a pang of dread.

Eight weeks on my calendar
Once filled with the hope of reading quietly in the shade
Day trips, star gazing, lingering over all of your sweet offerings
Interrupted so cruelly
by the fruit of my loins.

My car, now a taxi,
its inhabitants messy ingrates who never pay the fare.
Who demand to go hither, yonder, and back again
with no concern for your burgeoning gas prices.

My bank laughs piteously at my account balance
My wallet lies in ruins.
Pay for summer camps or listen to bored children whine–
The choice is obvious.

Wet swimsuits bedeck my carpets
Mud and dirt adorn my once luminous hardwoods
Goldfish crackers and half-completed art projects litter tables and floors.
Who shall clean this mess?
My laments are met with silence.

My tranquil moments of rest in the shade
As sun speckles through leaves
Playing patterns in the grass
Now suspended by the battle cry from a cacophonous band of neighborhood ne’er-do-wells
Coming to accost me with water guns.

“Play with us!” they call.
“Feed us snacks!”  they demand.
“Arbitrate our juvenile debates!”
My attempts to redirect their endeavors are futile
A fruitless exercise culminating in frustration
and the quiet plotting of maternal revenge upon my offspring.

And yet, in my midst
I see smiles unaffected by my fatigue
Freckles blossoming on little noses
Hair streaked light from the sun
As bubbles blow and chalk draws on blacktop.

I watch as one once afraid to fall
Bravely takes off on two wheels
And the one who, once timid near water,
Now jumps in with a splash and dives down deep to the bottom.

I see my vision of lazy days with a book and a hammock
And laugh.
There shall come a time for days such as those
Or so I am told
But no time soon.

This labor of taking pleasure in small joys
Will give birth to gratitude–
So say the wise women who have gone before me.
And yet I doubt their canned advice
Knowing the tendency of my own memory to recall only the sweetness.

Nevertheless, I check my impulse to anger
(sometimes)
And reject my instinct to lock them outside
(most of the time)
I strengthen myself with caffeine
And I join in the chaos
One day at a time.

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