I remember, as a kid, the night before the first day of school I would have trouble sleeping. I was anxious, excited, overwhelmed. My mom was a school teacher and one year she confided in me that she too, had all of those same feelings the night before the first day….WHAT???? I remember thinking….it NEVER goes away?
Years later when my baby girl headed off to school my feelings of anxiety returned…will she be ok? Will she do well? Will kids like her? Will her teachers support her?
And every year, at the beginning of a school year, I continued to be filled with intense emotions watching my baby girl grow up and watching time pass…quickly. So quickly. It just flew.
Well, here we are as another school year is upon us. And, while my baby girl is living far away and working, and getting her Master’s, I still find myself wrought with emotions. Now, I also know it doesn’t help that Mother Nature starts to play a cruel trick just as school starts, as you can feel the air change, the trees turn and the light fade earlier and earlier.
I got home early from work one day last week, when the school year was just starting for everyone. It was a beautiful night, so before starting dinner I went for a walk. The temperature was still close to 80 and the night stellar. But one could feel the change, and I started thinking how the youngest of our tribe just began his senior year. The 2nd oldest began his 4th year of College. And, in my head flashed all of the emotionally touching posts from friends of their kids first days…..whether it was off to pre school, or middle or their senior year of High School. And, while looking at the pictures of all the littles going off all shiny to school, I could see in my mind my baby girl at all of those stages. And my heart was so filled with love and lament that we could not go back in time and have a few moments together at each of those stages.
Yesterday I saw a post by one of those amazingly adorable young moms on Instagram, @gparrish that we all sort of creeper follow. You know what I mean…we don’t know her. We almost never, if ever, comment…but we just follow to catch a glimpse in to their lives. She is so stinking cute, the kids are even cuter and their lives seem chaotic but a controlled chaos. A fun and loving one. Anyway, she made a post that nearly broke my heart…and I challenge you to go to her feed and read her post from on or around September 2. She was talking about her son heading off to kindergarten. I will paraphrase here….they challenged their young son to learn one new person’s name in school that first day. He was unsuccessful. And then she asked “When was the last time you made a new friend?” And she went on saying how scary it is to put yourself out there at any age.
Well, today I sent my #farmboy off to the farm a few days ahead of me, so I could get caught up on a few things around here (like this blog post!). I then went off to volunteer at The Chicago Food Depository. Most people who volunteer there come as a group..Church, Work, Spouses, Friends….you get it….and then there was me. SOOOOO awkward. I suddenly found myself in the same shoes as @gparrish’s cute son. *SIGH* No matter how old we are, it never seems to change. I tried talking to the people who were in my group, and it took to almost the very end of our several hour experience together to start chatting. These groups excluded me at first. Sized me up. Watched my work ethic. Noticed my bracelet…..but, did not talk until the very end. I was able to instantly flashback to her post, and how difficult it is for us to meet new people, at any age…..
And now, here I sit….writing this at our kitchen table, in a quiet house, listening to music, and I remembered when I was on INSTA earlier today…@reesewitherspoon posted on a letter board….”REJECTION IS SIMPLY REDIRECTION”. UGH. How poignant. How easy to say when one is through the initial hurt of being rejected. And how irritable it makes us all feel to hear when we are in the MIDDLE of rejection. How fitting for me to see this when I am consumed with how our adult and almost adult kids are being treated. How I felt today….How Ginger’s (I like to think we are friends!) young son must have felt. And, to have read this as one of our tribe is struggling to work through this very concept. In the moment, it really does not matter what the big picture looks like, only the moment of hurt/disappointment.
This time of year, while I love me some boots and sweaters, does seem to bring out some strong emotions in me. The feeling of an end. The feeling of less optimism, as the weather grows colder and the days shorter. The feeling of anxiety that has been drilled in to our souls since about the age of 5 returns. The feeling of anxiety as a new chapter begins. New school year not only for the kids…but for us as adults. Now what, once the house is empty again? Now who am I? Now what do I do with myself? Now how do I relate to my partner? My other (and for real and true) bestie @jennifer.garner posted just yesterday…”It was time, Lord, yes. But, why does the house feel so empty? #itstooquiettogetanythingdone #butthankyouteachersandgoodluck”. Well, if she didn’t just sum it all up!
I wish I could help our kids suffer just enough to learn a lesson, but not to devastate them. I wish people in my new life were going home and giving their families my name as someone new in their life! I wish that no one’s children felt left out. I wish I could go back in time and spend just a few moments with everyone and say all the things that were left unsaid. I wish.
Fall brings so many changes…..the colors, the leaves falling, the temperatures…..
I see the changes. In myself. In what I want from life. How I have had several lives already, and how it seems it is time for another. I had my pre child career life. My stay at home mom life. I had my post divorce life. I have my Chicago/farm life with my man. This life is a great one but, I have molded my being to fit around a house and life where I had 3 step kids in and out and about. So, I made dinner time a priority. In order to be able to drop work and head to the farm, my man and I work together so that is possible. But now, as Fall approaches, what now? Who am I now and who do I want to be?
Don’t get me wrong…..my life is genius. I love my man to pieces. And, we have 3 kids living apart from us and between now and November 1 we will have made 4 weekend visits to kids, and 1 to visit our home and #farmboys sisters/fam. One visit from a friend and one visit to see my girlfriends! Count that out…that is 6 weekends out of 8?!
But, as I see yet again, Summer turn to Fall I see the changes in myself and I see our kids growing into real people. Living through the phases we used to. Just so weird….and I wonder, who am I going to be now? What do I want for myself?
Fall…why do you always feel so daunting? Why must you bring upon anxiety of winter and cold and change, while Spring feels filled with so much optimism?
So, here I sit…reveling in my decision to stay back from the farm and to enjoy some me time. And some time to reflect and work totally on my schedule. I send much love out to our tribe. I send much love out to all the kids facing this new school year. And to all the parents facing new challenges with their kids….bully’s, schoolwork, empty nest….what ever it is, I send you much love, and I challenge you to come home with 1 new person’s name and share it with your family…maybe it will be mine, and we will become best friends!?