This has been a month of lessons for me. Long, tiring, enlightening and educational. Among other things I’ve learned that Sebastian the crab was right, that sometimes too close is comfortable, that little girls can run fast, the harder you push the further you slide, that quiet is okay, and that one really is the loneliest number.
It’s been a long time since my first day of school. I remember the excitement of new clothes and a real backpack, I remember holding my sisters’ hands, I remember my mom’s reassuring looks. But I don’t remember how tired I was, how overwhelming it was to need to change my clothes after a long day at school, or how many thoughts, worries and emotions ran through my head and heart. Seeing it all this month in the kindest little person I know is – a lot. Not knowing what actually happens in the classroom; not understanding the context when I get half-thoughts about an ‘owl card’ or needing to work on writing the letter ‘d’ or partial french songs and a full lunch bag at the end of the day. Wondering if it’s a good thing that so-and-so is his best friend today and then not at all mentioned for a week, wondering why he is enamored by the tough boys, wanting to ‘get’ it and be the on top of it mom. And then seeing my two babies – at pre-school singing and learning up a storm – not a care in the world. The two I thought would cling to me – skipping away holding hands, thriving in ballet and sportball, telling secrets and being little… people. Don’t get me wrong – it’s all wonderful – but it isn’t unfolding the way I thought it would.
Experienced moms – cue eye roll here.
I am using some vacation time to be with the girls a little more right now – there’s a lot on the go and I had romantic visions of being a soccer mom, of family reading time, and outings to the aquarium, of me finally organizing our office and putting up pictures in our house, of knowing every kid in Matt’s class and the parents in k&c’s school… of being like those amazing moms who get to be at home with their kids and really be ‘in it’. Or at least of making sure they knew their ABCs.
That is not what September has been about. ‘The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake’ … that little red crab and his damn catchy little lessons for Ariel echo in my head as I stay up all night trying to work a ten hour day from 9pm-2am to make up for a vacation day spent feeling less than adequate as a parent, coach, teacher, chauffeur, cook, arbitrator, warden or cleaner. It seems I’ve tried to take the seaweed from everyone’s lake and bring it to my little puddle – and I might be ‘in it’ but i can’t see a thing. The vision of creating from that ever-growing list of ideas in my head and sharing with you my concoctions on this crazy little blog… squashed by the reality of too-much-stuff-to-do disorder. The little red light flashing on my phone telling me I have mail/text/msg (yes, I still use a blackberry – please park judgement on this issue here) taunts me to waiting work while the shrill shriek of a child who has just had a favorite toy-of-the-moment ripped away from her (again) reminds me of my priorities.
Enter my sweet husband. For my birthday he took us all to Seattle for a weekend Our first family get-away all in one hotel room, our first time trying out the zoo, and our hopeful attempt to bring the kids to our favorite (very nice) restaurant down there. All on the heels of him returning late the evening before from a week-away for work and me scrambling all week to stay on top of work, house, activities, school, and… life. Totally set up for success right?
It was amaaaazing. If you’re ever in Seattle – go to the zoo. You will not be disappointed. Our kids were thrilled and their happiness lasted all the way through our amazing dinner out at our favorite place, right through a late evening family swim in the hotel pool and a viewing of Mary Poppins before all sleeping a 9 hour night in one room. We were unplugged, and happy, and we even ran through a water fall all holding hands… it was right out of a movie. Including the part at the end of the weekend on our way home when our three-year-old disappeared in an outlet mall. It’s a long story – I can’t even think about it still – but the coles notes version is that she thought we’d left so she ran out of a store screaming. All we heard was her scream and then nothing. The silence after that screaming is deafening when you can’t find your baby. She was no where. Finally found too far away crying and running … fast… trying to find us. Terrifying doesn’t quite do it justice.
And so – after weeks of trying to be too many things – I stopped trying. I didn’t push M for info about his day, or who he was hanging out with – because he just needed to do crafts. I didn’t feel guilty for writing fast and furious emails to colleagues at work during my precious few hours “off” with my girls – because there are just too many demands at work not to right now. I didn’t clean up the hedge that I clipped in anticipation of the rain, or do laundry, or read to Matt, or prep tomorrow’s dinner – because I wanted to watch a show with the kids. And ironically – they were all happy. They went to bed early. And for the first time in weeks I’m writing this, instead of trying to word emails.
And as I write this I know there is a lot that goes unsaid. There is so much else that happened this month, so many hard moments, so little time. And I find I cherish the quiet seconds in my car or in the middle of the night. Cam doesn’t go away often (thank goodness), and it’s all doable, but two weeks in a row makes for some lonely parenting moments… and some interesting dinner decisions. It’s only now that I get a chance to stop and realize I haven’t peed in 8 hours, or eaten the bagel from breakfast that’s still in the toaster. I need the solitude to think and it’s only then that I realize none of this is bad, or hard really … it’s just a series of lessons – getting us ready for the next set of adventures. Some months are ‘coaster’ months – easy, uncomplicated, comfortable. Those are awesome days. But I think it’s months like September that really challenge us to step up and look at life and figure out what the heck we’re doing, and what comes next. I’m okay with that. Typical Virgo.
Adios September … see ya next year.