Well, it finally happened. I’m going back to work next week.

I’m excited to get back into a routine that is steady but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already overwhelmed with the changes. It’s funny how life works, I suppose; just when I was beginning to realize how much I enjoyed spending so much time with the boys, I get an offer I can’t refuse. It’s good news, of course – a dual income is always nice and I can already tell how relieved Seth is to have me financially contributing again – but it’s also really sad because I’ll probably never get another chance at a summer quite like this one.

I used to say I could never be a stay-at-home mom but you know what they say, never say never.

As I prepare to go back to work, I’m already stressing about the hours the boys will be spending at school. Typing that and quietly calculating the hours (50+ a week), it’s hard not to tear up. I’m worried about how they’ll adjust (even though I know they’ll be just fine). I’m worried about how I’ll adjust (even though I think I’ll be just fine). And I can just feel the weight of all the working-mom things settling back in, like cold and flu season and snow days vs paid time off, holiday concerts and school events vs work demands, stay-at-home mom evenings vs working-mom evenings, stay-at-home mom weekends vs working-mom weekends – the difference between sharing my free time with the boys, Seth and freelance work vs sharing my free time with the boys, Seth, my bosses, peers, deadlines and freelance work.

I always used to think I needed to work to have a completely full plate but spending time this summer volunteering, freelancing and actually focusing on being a better mom and wife, I realized just how full my plate naturally is – how multidimensional and full the life as a parent and nurturer can be – and how much of that role and world is compromised while also managing a career.

This summer I was *literally* able watch my kids grow. I watched Abbott build his vocabulary, I watched Matty build his social skills and grow a tremendous sense of humor. I watched them both move into new classrooms, I got to share in Matty’s first month of pre-school. I potty-trained Matty in four days and waned Abbott off of his pacifier in a week. I took them on individual date days and got to know them on a level I might never have gotten to. I explored our city with them and I watched their bond as brothers grow immensely – to the point that I became their third wheel. I taught them to swing on the big boys swing and watched Abbott go down the big boy slide by himself for the first time. I got to take Matty to his first college football game, take time outside to dance in the rain, watch Abbott grow out of his fear of splash parks and take thousands of pictures. We took more trips to the park and library together than we had all year, we enjoyed our mornings and our afternoons in the sun, and I got to experience what it was like to live life with them, rather than being forced to squeeze our lives together into three-hour evenings and crowded, overly-exhausted weekends.

This summer started out in April with uncertainty and a lot of questions, mainly “what now?” but it ended up being one of the most rewarding and beautiful summers yet; I’ll never have another one like it. The boys will only be one and three once and I’m so lucky to have had the challenge to actually enjoy it.

So long, Summer of 2017. You were everything.