This morning I was awake at 5am because the sun was shining through the blinds in my bedroom. Bright, golden, sunshine. In the Pacific Northwest we love to complain about our weather and just the other day one of my neighbors was telling me how difficult life has become for her since the rain stopped. Her children are a lot younger than mine and she has great difficulty getting them to sleep when it's light outside. With the sun rising at 4:15am and setting at 10:10 she isn't getting much sleep. I thought of her when I woke up. Then I stretched out in my puddle of sun and slept for another two hours. It was a perfect way to start the first official day of Summer Vacation.
My children are old enough to force themselves to sleep past sunrise but the dogs got up with me, and are laying on the patio, watching crows on the fence. There is a great deal of work to be done today so I can't enjoy this for very long. Bob is on his way home from Germany and I'd like him to come home to a relatively clean house (I'm a mediocre housekeeper but it's even worse when I'm the only adult here) but I also promised the girls that today would be a "spa day" to get ready for the wedding next week. We will do manicures and pedicures, facials and hair, plus have a delicious spa lunch with tiny crustless sandwiches and fruit smoothies. Silly? Maybe, but this is one of the things I love about having girls. They encourage me to be girly every once in awhile. I've never been much of a girly girl. I can dress up but I never feel comfortable. I know how to apply make-up but it annoys me and most days I don't bother. I prefer my hair to be simple, easy to style, and I'm no good at all when it comes to fixing it up for something special. I don't like shopping and hate beauty parlors. I was forty before I stopped feeling out of place in a large group of women. I think that some time between ten and seventeen, while I was sitting in a corner with my nose in a book, there was an essential class on modern womanhood that I missed.
Crying is another girly thing I never learned to do properly. I don't cry prettily when I'm feeling touched. My eyes never well with tears of pride, or joy. I don't like to cry and have stifled the urge for so many years that I have trouble crying even when I want to. I can't even be counted on to cry at a funeral. My kids have probably seen me cry three or four times in their lives and those were not pretty episodes. But having daughters is softening me.
Yesterday was the last day of school. It wasn't a BIG last day. No graduations or moving on ceremonies. Last year was a really big year, with one kid finishing high school, another finishing Jr. High, and the third finishing Elementary. It should have been a very emotional time but last year was also one of the worst years of my life. The high schooler didn't graduate, in fact he was in jail on graduation day, and the events of his senior year of high school had left me numb. The younger kids deserved a celebration and even a mother who embarrassed them with her tears of pride as they moved closer to adulthood but I was fighting to keep calm and any emotion threatened to unbalance me. This year was very different. With only the younger three living at home our lives were suddenly much calmer. We had a very pleasant, relatively drama free, school year. So I was surprised by my depth of emotion as they finished their last day. The moment of my undoing was watching the teachers at the Elementary school gather to wave goodbye to the children. As the buses pulled out of the parking lot the drivers honked and the kids yelled out the windows while their teachers yelled and waved back. I can't even explain why it touched me but I stood there with tears streaming and the stupidest smile on my face. Good grief! I'm tearing up just remembering it.
Life isn't perfect, and my oldest will probably always be a worry, but there is beauty all around. In the morning sunshine and golden dogs, the soft breeze, the sleeping children who will wake up soon and start their summer, the teachers who touch so many families and help to turn lives around, sometimes without even knowing they are doing anything other than their jobs. Today I'm happy. Happy to be a girl... and a Mom.