18 Summers…

(Today’s Author is Carol from MWM Paignton)

So, the long hot summer continues, (except for the rain this morning) and here we are on the 1st July after an unusually sweltering June! As always, everyone you meet in the shops, at the kid’s classes, wherever you go, we all talk about the weather. It’s a very British thing to do, but normally we’re complaining about it being too wet, too cold, too miserable, and now all we hear is how it’s too hot! We are definitely hard to please as a nation!

summer 2018

My favourite time of the day in this weather is early morning, it’s so peaceful out in the garden, nobody else is up, the roads are quiet, and the birds are singing. I really do feel content at that time of the day. Yesterday I already had my two loads of washing up and out on the washing line by 7.30am. What a beautiful morning. We haven’t had constant blue skies like this every day for years! I know it’s July now though, (and it did rain today) so it could all change, but we’ve been very lucky so far this summer. It’s a far cry from all that snow a few months back!

But also this week, as well as feeling blessed with the sunshine, I’ve also been thinking about summers gone by, both with my boys, and also of those when I was a kid. I think it’s because of something I saw on Facebook a few days ago, and it really made me stop and ponder for a while. You probably saw it, something saying we only have 18 summers with our children, and to make each one count. I can’t find the picture now, but it’s along the lines of this one.

There-are-only-18-Summers-with-your-child

This summer my children will be 23 and 20, the eldest lives in Bournemouth now with his partner, so our summers together are well and truly gone.  My youngest is back at home for the summer from Cardiff Uni, but of course, most of the time he’s out with his friends, and rightly so, although we often get to see him at 4am when he rolls in after a night out….. oh the joy!

So I have been looking back at our summers, and because I’ve been fortunate enough to have always worked term-time ever since the boys were born, I’ve had every summer holiday with them, and so when the weather has been good, we’ve always made the most of it, and when the weather has not been so great, we’ve just got on with it. I remember one particular chilly August sitting in Bovey Tracey Park with a friend and her 4 children. The four boys were running around playing football, cricket, climbing trees as they do, and my friend and I and her two girls were huddled under a blanket trying to keep warm! But we never gave in, flasks of hot coffee and lots of snacks and we still all had a lovely day.

summer 2000
Summer 2000 at Weymouth with Christopher and Nicholas, a very hot day!

But something else that really made me think this week was after bumping into the mum of one of my son’s good friend’s that he had at primary school. I haven’t seen her for years, the boys went to different secondary schools and even though my son Nick used to spend many happy times round at their house with her eldest, life moves on and people lose touch when their paths go a different way. But it was lovely to catch up and hear how her boys were doing. I was so happy and relieved to hear they were both well and making their way in this world. Her boys are now 20 and 18, so a little younger than mine, but still those 18 summers of childhood are drawing to a close for her family now too. And it feels really sad.

However, her boys, both of them, were shockingly diagnosed with a life-limiting condition when they were about 8 and 10, and at the time they were told that some children with this condition don’t live past the age of 10, and her eldest, my son’s friend, was already 10. That’s some hell of a thing to get your head around as a parent. I think their lives were just completely turned upside down and inside out and I don’t know how they all coped. We chatted about this a little bit when we bumped into one another at The Range this week, how she looks back and I think said something like it was like living in some surreal version of your life; I imagine that it felt like everything you thought you knew was suddenly ripped from under you and they were launched into another world of diagnosis, treatments, causes, cures, doctors, specialists, research, hopes, fears, and in amongst all that the children still had to go to school, mum and dad still had to go to work, bills still needed to be paid, but inside I can’t imagine how they put one foot in front of the other some days.

hope

But they’ve beaten all the odds, every year when they get their scans and check ups in London, they amaze the specialists with how well they both are. And here was their mum, feeling grateful and blessed and hopeful that it will continue for many years to come. We had a laugh about how horrifically untidy and messy older teenage boys are, how they never surface till gone midday, how they seem happy to spend their days off in their beds with the curtains closed, but talking to her, it reminded me how fortunate we are to have that to moan about, them especially.

Her summer holidays with her now grown up boys won’t be the same as they were, but there was a time she thought they’d never get those 18 summers.  So every one we get we really should make the most of it, like this sunny weather, as we never know what the next day might bring. So my advice to you today is to be grateful and embrace the day, and enjoy this summer with your little ones and make it a summer of happy times to look back on and to treasure.

Carol x x x

 

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