June is freaking me out.
I’m a week away from being the parent of a high schooler. The two minor graduations we have next week – middle school and elementary – are reminders that in four years our household count will start shrinking. My heart hurts just thinking about it.
It sounds silly that end of the school year is such a freak out time for me. I started my career working in mergers and acquisitions on Wall Street, a cross between spreadsheet sweatshop and frat house. It was brutal hours and high intensity. But in retrospect it was easy, because it wasn’t emotional.
The weighty emotional load is both the loving gift and the daunting responsibility of parenthood. I don’t harbor fantasies of providing perfect childhoods for my kids. The pressure comes from knowing moments will be remembered. Like forever.
We strive to be our better selves for our kids. But it’s not the countless hours you spent reading to them, feeding them, teaching them to ride a bike, helping them with math homework that the kids remember. What they remember is when someone spilled an entire box of cereal on the kitchen floor and you lost it and “used the S-word” (stupid).
At first this seems maddening. But then you realize it’s the sign of a generally happy household that these are the moments that stand out.
My husband and I took the kids for an incredible spring break in New York City – Statue of Liberty, top of Rockefeller Center, Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Bridge, Hamilton, for crying out loud.
But the one thing they tell everyone is how our third grader rushed onto the subway train alone while some of us were still stuck at the turnstile, and we all froze as the doors shut, our 10 eyes locked in horror on his full-on Macaulay Culkin look as the train pulled away.
You need a sense of humor to survive parenthood.
The end of the school year, with recitals and tournaments, projects and parties, is packed with it-all-comes-down-to-this final events. The kids may not remember that you were there. But they are likely to remember if you were not.
Aside from the extra demands, the school year end is a poignant turning of the page. The start of parenting is long, those exhausting years of no sleep and chasing young kids. Then there’s a brief, glad pause in the middle, when kids are more self-sufficient and you feel like a more experienced hand at parenting.
But suddenly puberty hits, kids transform overnight, and the years fly faster than your mind can comprehend. And the finish line somehow rushes up to you, even as you try with all your might to slow your pace.
I’m a wreck, people. No wonder I can’t write. I’m too busy praying that I taught my older kids enough while they were still young enough to listen. I’m gearing up for the big problems of my big kids – because growing up ain’t easy – and reminding myself to be glad for the little problems of my little kids.
Little problems are awesome.
And on that note, I have a happy solution today for one of the little but irritating problems of summer: stains from all that irresistibly juicy summer fruit.
Summer fruit season is my happiest eating time of year, but I always make a mess of it, especially when I’m wearing white. Some fruit stains are obvious, like this cherry one, but some (like peaches) are nearly colorless when fresh and turn brown only later.
I used to use cold water on stains, for fear of setting the stain more permanently, and a collection of laundry sprays. But it turns out the best trick to removal is actually non-detergent, non-chemical: just lots of boiling-hot water.
If you do this while the stain is reasonably fresh, it’s like magic.
You want to pour the boiling water through the stain, not soak the stain in it. I like to set up in the sink for safety. I’m using a colander here, but you can also use a large bowl.
Gently scrape off any solids before you start (don’t be like me here). Slowly pour the hot water through the stain.
Keep running the water through until the stain disappears. So easy.
This works for fruit and vegetable (eg tomato) juice stains, but don’t use it on any artificial colorings, or the hot water may set in the stain. I’ve also read that hot water works for red wine stains, but I haven’t tried it yet. Maybe in the coming years.
June, end of school year, is followed by June, beginning of summer. Just a few tears next week, and a lot of celebration, and I’ll be ready.