To My Girlfriends, At the End of Summer

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Hello, it's me.

How are you? Do you remember me?

Last time we saw each other I was fairly slim but with absolutely no tan. We had to go and pick up our kids from their last week of school so the conversation was short, but as always, so rich. It's three months later now and I've done so much sun damage that my freckles have connected into one continuous, fake tan, liver spot, and all those ice cream cones and sticky fingered s'mores fed to me by seven-year-olds have settled nicely around my midsection like an old-timey life preserver. My legs are ropey with muscles from chasing my kids across fields and beaches and parking lots, but my belly has become so soft with literal muffin tops and hotdogs that my kids bury their faces in it like a freckled feather pillow. I'm afraid I may now look like Mr. Peanut, the Planters peanut guy. Alas.

Contrary to what my absence may have led you to believe, I have not actually been trapped under a fallen bookshelf at my home, nor has my husband thrown me into the trunk of the minivan because I'm too controlling (although there was the fireworks incident which could have gone either way.) Rather, I have become a one woman, pro bono camp counselor for a camp of four energetic, talkative, often annoying children. 24 hours a day, for 82 days, so for approximately 118,080 minutes of camp counseling. Not that I'm counting. (You should see my gimp and canoe skills.)

And don't get me wrong, it was a good summer, maybe even a banner summer. We entered the fishing tournament, we did candlepin bowling, we went to the beach and rode our bicycles. We blew off all math packets, summer reading and piano practice and as far as motherhood goes, it was pure varsity, maybe even Olympic quality.

But you, my friend, you I missed. I missed catching up with you after an exercise class, or grabbing a quick muffin together before we headed off in opposite directions. I missed talking with you in the parking lot as we picked up our kids from school, or standing on the sidelines of their practices.

It used to be way back when that we'd meet up every day to sit at the playground as our toddlers toddled in play dates totally orchestrated by us (could you have imagined we'd ever miss those days?) Those days felt positively luxurious in their length. But now our kids are mobile, over-scheduled and opinionated, playing lax or soccer, learning to sail or kayak. Dare I say, our big kids, the ones who introduced us to each other once upon a time, are getting in the way of our mom-friendship?

After asking someone to put on sunscreen or water shoes for the 12th time the other day, I found myself asking, "Is my voice making any sound?!" I missed hearing you say in your reassuring voice, "I hear your voice. Your words matter."

How's your garden? Your crockpot? Your parents? Your spouse? Are you working? Volunteering? Dreaming? Organizing? What are you reading or listening to or thinking about? Sometimes texts just aren't enough to let me know. (They're never enough.) Sometimes a picture on Facebook makes me feel like I know even less about your life than I thought I did.

I want to know what you're thinking because the things you're thinking about matter. I think you're brilliant and insightful, always, even when you're just thinking that the kids in front of you need to put on their sunscreen or water shoes. Over the years your words have so often given voice to what I'm feeling, your suggestions have influenced me, your stories have moved me.

I heard you, too. I always hear you. And so as we head into September and the kids finally return to school, I'm writing to say, how about we meet for a walk without the kids? Or tea? Or a drink? I'll even take five minutes in the bread aisle or between our cars in the parking lot if that's all your busy September can fit. (It's been a long summer.)

How about we catch up on life, celebrate the great summers our individual families had, share our disappointments, look towards the future? How about we toast to us?

We survived another blissfully exhausting, joyfully kid-filled summer. We earned it, my friend. We most surely did.

 

 

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Author: Jen Groeber

Jennifer Groeber is a mother of four, artist, writer, and blogger. You can read about her escapades parenting, reliving her childhood and obsessing over Bruce Springsteen at jen groeber:mama art

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