The Only Summer It Will Be This Way

The burn of chlorine filled my nostrils as I was slapped in the face with an oversized purple pool noodle.  I let out a giant roar of retaliation and my oldest squealed as I pursued him across the pool towards the deep end, to a chorus of cheers from my two younger children, bobbing in a floating “spaceship” nearby. 

In our homegrown, pool-borne version of Astronauts and Aliens, I was tasked with protecting my two little “astronauts” from the kidnapping attacks of my oldest, armed with his weapon of choice, the fearsome Pool Noodle.  The game involved an endless cycle of me circling the float holding my six year old, enjoying his first summer as a real swimmer, and my two year old, her plump arms still firmly encased in a Puddle Jumper, while fending off the attacks of my eleven year old who was attempting to “steal” them away to his side of the pool.  As the evening breeze picked up and the sun slowly dropped in the sky, I had one of those moments.

Do you know the moment I’m talking about?

It’s not deja vu, but feels a little bit similar, where the world tilts a little, and you have some sort of tiny epiphany…when you take a mental snapshot of where you are right now and you just know…this is it

This is our summer.

This moment.  Right here.  This is who we are, in this summer of 2017 and this is the only time we will be this way.

This is when we are 11, 6, and 2…

The Only Summer It Will Be This Way | Houston Moms Blog

When we are barely wearing diapers, enjoying the first summer of reading books all by ourselves, and exploring the independence of pre-teenhood…

When we can’t stop singing the Moana soundtrack, watching endless variations of the Super Buddies movies, and gorging on our favorite new flavors of popcorn…

When the rules and restrictions of the school year go out the window, half the kids prefer to walk around the house in their underwear, and curly hair cascades over deep brown eyes, well beyond the length allowed by the dress code…

When my oldest hovers around me, not only in the kitchen when he wants me to teach him to cook meals by himself, but also when the clouds are dark and foreboding…

When the living room floor is covered in the murky conglomeration of Disney Princess dolls and dinosaurs that results form the combined imaginations of my 6 and 2 year olds, who, this summer anyway, play so sweetly together…

If there’s one thing I can say I am absolutely sure of, in my mere 11 years of parenting, it is that nothing stays the same for long.  That can sometimes be a blessing, sure, but I see it mostly as a curse. 

So this is our summer; it’s the only one like this that we will have.

Next year, arms and legs will be longer, baby cheeks will be leaner, my oldest will likely be more aloof, and we may have said goodbye to the world of dinosaurs. {Although I hope – no, beg from the bottom of my heart – not.} 

I am sure that there will be new triumphs, joys and milestones crushed underfoot next summer, but forgive me for circling my little chicks, for wanting to protect our Now from the onslaught of Time that threatens to steal this away and slap me in the face with a giant purple pool noodle. 

And as the sun sets and the breeze picks back up signaling the end of yet another day, I tell myself that it will be fine, there’s nothing I can do to slow it down, and that teary burn is just the chlorine in my eyes…

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Jennifer U
Jennifer grew up in Houston before heading to Austin for seven years to attend the University of Texas as a history and government major and continuing at UT for law school. An attorney by day, in the evening she trades high heels and ambition for wet kisses and warm hugs from her three children - Kieran {Dec 2005}, Sawyer {Jan 2011}, and Birdie {Sept 2014}. Her many vices include an intense passion for all things Bravo and her plan for the future is "more cowbell." You can find her at the duck pond, the zoo, on Instagram @jen.e.underwood and blogging at Treading Water in the Kiddie Pool {}.


  1. What a perfect reminder to be present in the moment instead of praying for school to start! I’m so grateful for you sharing your heart and insight into your sweet kiddos. You have a great point – this is the only summer we’ll have like this one. Love it!


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