I stood to stretch before readjusting the towel covering the hot tile next to the pool. The towel now straightened under me, I sat criss-cross and watched my growing-too-fast boy glide through the water and grab the diving sticks I’d thrown for the 452nd time.

He popped up next to me, dripping water and grinning, “Count again, Momma! See if I can do it faster!”

I took another sip of sweet tea, and half-heartedly obliged his request, tossing the sea creature shaped torpedo back into the water. Down again he went.

I silently wondered why my heart was sour. The sun beat down from a clear blue sky. My summer was coming to a close, but I wasn’t due to report back to school for the new school year for another week. Fresh-baby-faced pre-kindergarteners would fill my days soon, but for now the lazy days of summer were still in full swing.


“Do not be anxious for anything…” (Philippians 4:6).

The verse echoed through my mind. But what was I anxious about?

“How long was that?” He bobbed up next to me and grinned. His blue eyes were hidden behind lime green goggles, and his blonde hair shimmered in the summer sun.

“Seventeen seconds!” I guessed. I wondered if he knew it was an estimate.

We eventually dried off and headed back into the air-conditioning. I mentally checked the list of things we wanted to accomplish this summer. We’d cleaned out closets and taken a family vacation. We’d spent hours at the pool and with friends. Plenty of days had been spent in our pjs until long after morning turned into mid-day.

In our dry clothes, he settled onto the couch for a cartoon. I flipped open my calendar. A sigh escaped my lips. In the next week, we had meetings, doctor appointments, and play dates scheduled. My husband would be traveling for work for several days, too.

Had we done enough this summer? Had we made enough memories? Would I be able to remember the way his eyes looked in goggles this summer? Or his obsession with the differences between a Tyrannosaurus rex and an Allosaurus? Or the way his chubby little boy hand felt in mine?

I noticed one blank square on the page. One day with nothing scheduled. An idea sparked.


This empty day was a gift. Suddenly, I knew exactly what my shadowed heart needed. It needed a day. Just the two of us. Before school began again, we needed a “Goodbye to Summer Day.”

After some research, I came up with the perfect plan. Just a couple of hours away was a drive-through zoo, and a park with a short hike along a creek bed known for its dinosaur footprints. Dinosaurs were my boy’s love language.

A day away from routines and ‘to-do’ lists. A pause before the school year began. A final hoorah. It was just what we needed.

When the day arrived, we filled the car with snacks, a printed map, and extra sunscreen. His legs bounced with the energy of the day. He chatterboxed the two hours down the road, but then hushed as we pulled into the entrance of the zoo. We bought food to toss from the car window, as he rambled off fact after fact about each animal. His sweet voice served as the soundtrack of the day.

As we pulled out of the parking lot of our first adventure, he giggled with excitement knowing that we were headed to the dinosaur creek bed. Once there, he slipped his hand in mine. We walked side by side, noticing God’s creation all around and looking for signs of prehistoric life.

When we loaded up and turned the car back north late that afternoon, my eyes brimmed with contented tears. Connecting with my boy, remembering time goes too fast, and choosing to treasure this moment in my heart had brought closure to the summer season for us. It settled my mind to ease into the school year.

This was the first of what became an annual summer tradition for me and my boy.


Since that first “Goodbye to Summer Day,” my growing-too-fast boy has sprouted into an almost teenager. His love of dinosaurs remains steadfast, but he’s added football, reading, and video games to his list of hobbies. His voice cracks now, but he still reaches for my hand. His feet are bigger than mine, but he still walks beside me—sometimes quietly, sometimes still a chatterbox—full of facts and stories.

Our “Goodbye to Summer Day” has become part of our summer rhythm. Some of our trips have been flops—like the year I bought tickets for the amusement park for the wrong day. And there have been highlights—like a plane-trip for a day-trip! But each year, when I turn the calendar page to August, I know it’s time.

It’s time to find that holy pause before the school year rushes in. To take a breath and acknowledge the transition of seasons. It’s time to plan a “Goodbye to Summer Day.”

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