Monday, September 08, 2008

Fall: Don't Look Back

OK, so fall has appeared to have made a lightning-quick entrance around these parts; while last year I was dressing my girls in short skirts with bare legs and sandals until late September, and Julia was arriving home from preschool red-cheeked from the lack of air conditioning in the building, on this, the second day of nursery school, I was busy scrounging for leggings and socks and jackets at seven a.m.

Truly, we left for "vacation" in mid-August dogged by 90-degree temps and loving the late sunsets. We came back and--or so it feels--overnight it's chilly and dark by eight. What?

Well, so be it. I love fall anyway, even if this year the seeming change of seasons has been especially disorienting. (This being Minnesota, however, one never knows; the current chill may be a short-lived tease, interrupted by prolonged pseudo-summer until October.) Of course, one of the things I adore about fall is the new-start aura that comes along with it. OK, so I'm not the one facing down a new class schedule with a box of yellow #2s and unscuffed shoes. But think of it this way: I've only been done with school--ALL that school, six years of post-college included!--for eight years. Considering how old I am, it's no wonder the September-new-start mentality is so firmly entrenched in my mind.

If anyone needs a firm leap forward into a fresh new season it's me. This summer--with its screaming toddler and its volunteer-job stress and its kicked-to-the-curb-by-the-Internet drama--can just take its toys and leave. I am so ready to not look back.

My mom's favorite nugget of wisdom regarding my recent episodes of blog-drama runs along the lines of, "Why would you care what anyone else thinks about you, anyway?" Then there's my preschool-mom friend, whose parking-lot advice today involved something like, "You gotta just let it roll off your back, girl." Both of which I love, but which are also a helluva lot easier to agree with when they're referring to the antics of an anonymous reader (especially one who actually comes back and apologizes in the comments! rock on, Anonymous Reader Psychologist!) than those of a friend of 15 years who actually stood up for you in your wedding. OUCH.

But I get it; I hear it. After reading my mom's e-mail and talking to my preschool friend, this afternoon I was listening to the rageful, nap-rebellion screams of Genevieve in her crib and bracing myself for a good hour of baby-crying yet again, and I had a true epiphany. I thought to myself, Hey. Just think. In one year [or two, or five], I'll be sitting with my best friend and we'll be chatting and laughing as always, only what I'll be saying will be things like, "Oh, God, remember summer 2008 when Genevieve tortured me for three months straight by screaming at the top of her lungs for an hour at every single naptime and bedtime?" And, "Remember last year [or two years ago, or five] when we thought we'd lose our minds trying to run the preschool, it was so stressful and unknown and difficult, that we developed insomnia and stopped sleeping altogether?" And, "Ha! Do you remember when our kids were babies and that anonymous lady told the Internet I needed psychotropic medication because I hated listening to the baby scream for hours every day?" And even, "Hoo boy. Do you remember that person I thought was a friend?" Even that.

Do you see what I mean? I finally understood--I finally GOT IT; I could actually see it in my mind--that a future time will come when we'll be sitting and sighing and commiserating, but instead of it being about how to get through another hour of screaming or an afternoon of tantrums or a week's worth of volunteer-job meetings or the drama of a mom who feels ambivalent about her own choices and so behaves in questionable ways toward those who don't, it will be about the fact that all those things are past. Over and done with.

Of course, if you go down THAT particular road in your distracted, busy-mama mind, you risk ending up in a puddle of pre-nostalgia, realizing that not only will the stressful parts of your current life be in the past (whew!), but so will the precious parts (dang! sniff!).

Better to focus on that part at the beginning: It's fall. Move on, and don't look back.


Christopher Tassava said...

Hear, hear! It was a brutal summer, one I'll be glad to experience as something to laugh or cry over - hopefully the former. You know, we still haven't had that champagne that's been in the fridge for months now...

Today, the freshmen are arriving on campus, looking all adolescent and naive. I love that autumn is the season for a fresh start when you're at a college or in a college town. Here's to turning over a new leaf - one that just happens to be golden yellow.

sara said...

I, too, gone summer of crazy (including your silly e-shrink). The cool fresh air is a welcome change. Though, I'm secretly hoping for another week or two of capris/tshirt weather yet this year.