On the morning that I’m typing this, it’s a brisk 59 degrees outside.
I find myself cozy under a comforter as the cool winds blow through our home. It’s August.
More importantly, it’s days before the streets of our town will once again be hustling and bustling with children-filled autos. It’s the week of Back to School.
This is my year of two high schoolers. A chapter I will only live for two years, so I’m going to reserve the column of mush and how did this happen for another time.
This morning however, as I tiptoed through a chilly house to retrieve some coffee as the rest of the house slept, Mother Nature gave me a little chuckle.
How poetic to have such a vast temperature change, as we prepare for this major household shift. Where did summer go?
As children of divorce, my duo spends a bit of time each summer with their father - this naturally shortens our days of summer. Then of course we have “life stuff,” namely a mom who works full-time and does her best to keep the two of them equally busy. Somehow this summer, that came with no trouble.
This summer of course, we also had to deal with a bit more of mom’s “cancer stuff,” which I’m happy to report just as our summer season seems to be winding down, it does as well.
In short, we had little to no time for the fun and merriment summer has held for us in the past, yet somehow we still managed to share a lot of laughs with family and friends, as well as make some amazing memories.
A girlfriend and I were talking about this very topic a few weeks back, while fitting in a walk in the wee hours of the morning. As we walked we spoke of the astonishment, as well as excitement that the school year was about to begin. Both admitting to bittersweet sentiment, as we (she now a grandmother) enjoy the quality family time.
We also spoke about the highlight reel (aka social media) where one can easily feel as if they’re failing their family as so many share photos and the like of wonderful vacations from near and far. A loving mother, turned grandmother she confided in me as to how she coaches her daughter to simply turn away from the social media-inflicted pressure as the works to build something both great and unique for her own family.
Typing this, I can almost hear my older readers condemning this mom with young children. I mean how silly, after all to let something as superficial as social media affect your psyche.
So begins and becomes a parent the great divide of the what once was to the what is now. The reality is socially felt pressure is indeed a real thing. The phrase ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is not exactly a new one. The difference between 40 years ago and now is indeed stark.
No longer are parents hearing of elaborate travels at PTA meetings, baseball games or playdates. If they have social media, they wake up and see them each and every day.
I identify with my girlfriend’s daughter in the sense of wishing time allowed for such memories for my own children this past summer. It was a fleeting moment in which I felt this and somehow (gratefully) it passed as something came over me.
Why do we feel it’s necessary to share with a sea of strangers (okay maybe 12 we talk to regularly) photos of cocktails from Hawaii? Have we as a society become so self-involved that we think anyone actually cares?
Now please don’t misunderstand, I’m all for the friends sharing photos of their cute kiddos on a beach in random anywhere, soaking up the sun and splashing in a body of water; zip code need not matter. Sunset photos- also love- zip code not needed as well.
As has been said to me in the past, if you don’t share it did it even happen? Now, 16 months into a cancer journey, with lessons shared but a lot left private, I can honestly say it did.
Life is bright, beautiful and well lived, even if not “highlighted” for the masses.
And now I will look forward to a different development in the highlight reel as we embark on a day we have not seen since 2019 - first day of school photos. Cheers to the streets and the sidewalks once again being filled in real time.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.