jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

The Summer of Enough

Last week my email account resent a bunch of emails with photo attachments, emails I’d sent a year ago. And my sister replied to a very back-to-school looking picture as if it was from this year. Because in the grand scheme of things, life hasn’t changed all that much. Their legs are slightly longer, faces barely thinner, more freckles, less teeth. Otherwise, not so different.

I was thinking about this as I took my last Sunday-morning paddle at sunrise the weekend before Labor Day. This has been a summer with not much to reflect on.

We played Monopoly and went for kayak adventures. We bicycled in the park, all four kids racing off on two wheels. We had play dates with friends near and far, and I stood amazed to realize that some of my friends’ kids are now almost taller than me. We learned a new card game called Egyptian Rat Screw (thanks for that name, teenage nieces of mine) and just last week my eight-year-old son beat me at it, fair and square.

boy with "8" rash guard

Eight years old
June 2015

This was the summer in fact, of him being very eight years old in every way, of my six-year-old daughter and son saying they hate me and that I’m stupid, respectively (although not respectfully, apparently.) My six-year-old daughter perfected the art of the single foot stomp, while her twin brother mastered the wise-guy one-liner with the smirk. It is the summer that my baby turned five, and the passage of time confronted me like a runaway train, or the gentle ebb of the tide.

Turning five June 2015

Turning five
June 2015

It is the summer I decided to write things for the world to see, where I resolved to collect rejections. And I got some. Also a few acceptances, thankfully.

I worked out a bit, but not that much, and my momkini didn’t even care. Nor did I. We ate s’mores and homemade granola, lobster and prosciutto, and more fish and greens than any family should.We picked things at our local organic farm and ate it in the shade of the trees by the field. I even grew mint in a pot by the garage so that my husband could make me the most delectably fresh mojitos ever invented.

boy with berries

Picking berries
June 2015

We read Peter Pan and The Secret Garden, The Magician’s Elephant andΒ Harry Potter and all four gorgeous Penderwick books. We watched Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep, and regrettably, The Minions. I may have even made eye contact with the Edge when U2 came to town.

This is the summer the island mermaids asked me to swim with them amidst the late night phosphorescence in the cove, and I did. This may even have been the summer that four grown ups raced down the plank walk through the beach grass to dive naked into the August full moon high tide at nearly midnight, but that’s a secret between the moon and the child that lives in each of us.

girl swimming underwater

Mermaid in the making
August 2015

I can’t help but wonder which of these things will seem specific to this and only this summer in retrospect. What will I look back on and think, Oh, yes, that. We used to be like that. What part of the summer will I miss most five, ten, twenty-five years from now?

As I paddled this morning I watched the clouds like puffy bars, lined in rows across the sky, fighting to keep the rising sun at bay. I thought about how time is usually marked by bad things- the year my dad got sick, the year he died, the year of one or another of my brother’s surgeries, or when my older siblings left me to head off to college, the year some girlfriends were horrible, or the summer he broke my heart, the summer my brother died. Except for a few jobs and the wonder of college, most years before meeting my husband are marked like that.

But as I glided the last ten yards into the shallows, leaning on my paddle, balanced silently beneath that protective cloud layer, I thought about how this summer was a small, quiet, forgettable thing. It was simply, gloriously, healthfully, joyously, mundanely enough.

I want my children to know that.

You had enough. We had enough. And it was extraordinary.

four kids from behind on a rock looking at the ocean

Looking into the future
July 2015

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21 comments on “The Summer of Enough

  1. kellylmckenzie
    September 2, 2015

    What a wonderfully “enough” summer. My past summers – the ones of eons ago – are remembered along the lines of yours. “The summer I broke my arm … the summer I yelled “old Bag” to the next door neighbor and got into huge trouble for it … the summer I showed slides for mom … the summer I ran the Sun Run with my husband to be ….” Now – when friends ask what I did for the summer my mind goes blank. It all blends together. You are blessed and smart to be writing about them. And therefore recording them. I wish I’d starting jotting things down much earlier. Ah well. My kids are more than happy to remind me of what we did. At least let’s hope so.

    • jgroeber
      September 8, 2015

      Ha! I love this perspective from the other side (or sort of the other side, anyway.) And to have been a bug on a tree to witness the “Old Bag” antics… Now that sounds like a Just Typikel moment that could make it to a future post!!
      And yes, it all runs together. The whole thing. Every last bit of it. Thank goodness for camera phones surgically attached to our hands these days. At least I have photographic proof that I entertained my children well.

  2. Linda Friday
    September 2, 2015

    Beautifully poignant. As usual, my eloquent “friend” I’ve never met. πŸ™‚

    • jgroeber
      September 8, 2015

      Oh, thank you for such kind words. Thank you.

  3. Ann St. Vincent
    September 2, 2015

    Thank you for another evocative post. I’ve been focused on making memories for my seven year old and I and realizing that life is what we are doing – right now. I used to wait for something to change or happen and then it would be better… I’m glad I realized the folly of that approach while my son is still in the single age digits.

    • jgroeber
      September 8, 2015

      What a thought, right? That life is the right now. Makes me sort of rethink all the yelling about seatbelts.

      • Ann St. Vincent
        September 9, 2015

        Yes. Me as well. Although seatbelts might be an okay one to insist on πŸ™‚

  4. Lisa soininen
    September 2, 2015

    Yes! So trueπŸ˜€

    • jgroeber
      September 8, 2015

      Ah, so good to see you here. Hope yours was a summer of enough, too, Lisa!

  5. pujagokarn161289
    September 3, 2015

    I want more summers like this for my niece. ‘enough’ is a beautiful way to live. πŸ™‚

    • jgroeber
      September 8, 2015

      Then I wish you and your niece plenty of enough summers.

  6. Burns the Fire
    September 3, 2015

    Oh, Jen. I feel like I just drank the mojito and ran naked into the tide, to the laughter of your beautiful kids and the shiny moon.

    • jgroeber
      September 8, 2015

      You would TOTALLY have drunk the mojito and run naked into the tide under the brilliant full moon. It was quintessentially you, I think.

  7. snowsomewhere
    September 8, 2015

    I love the way you write!

    • jgroeber
      September 8, 2015

      Thank you for reading and for the kind words.

  8. Dawn Quyle Landau
    September 11, 2015

    I had a momma friend a few years ago who wanted to have hats printed for all of us, that would read: Good Enough. I’ve thought of it so many times.

    Admittedly, it would be enough for me, to come back as one of your kids… I love your sweet world. In a not at all creepy way. πŸ˜‰ xox

    • jgroeber
      September 16, 2015

      Love it. I need that hat!! My son has a shirt that says “The Best” in brilliant day-glo orange. It’s from Crewcuts, of all places. And he struts around in it as if to say, “I know. I know.” Ha!
      And that is not at all a creepy comment. I promise. You can come pick string beans with us any day. πŸ˜‰ xoxo

  9. Jennifer Berney
    September 22, 2015

    Oh, I needed this just now (late as I am to this particular party). I’ve been in denial about summer ending. It came on early and strong, and I expected it to drag on through September, but it just–poof–disappeared before August was even over. And I’ve been trying to figure out was it enough? Your post convinces me it was.

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This entry was posted on September 2, 2015 by in Memory, Surviving Motherhood, The Children, Uncategorized.

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