Monday, August 24, 2015

Ready, Set, Go

Well, my friends, it's a tough time of year for this mama, as you well know. I'm not even going to bother hyperlinking to all the past examples of my late-August melancholia; you all know how this goes down. You know I'm not like Jen Hatmaker, self-proclaimed worst end of summer mom ever, counting the minutes until I can send my kiddos back to school; I'm like dear Catherine Newman, shaking my fist at the universe that anything but summer even exists (why? seriously, WHY?), mourning every single summer flown like I'm mourning every increment by which my girls grow farther up and out. Which, of course, is exactly what the passing of one more summer means.

Well, that and the end of glorious, warm, comfortable, blissful, lovely weather. Gahhhhhhhhh........

This is partly why I have avoided writing here this month. Who wants to write about preparing for the first day of school, about shopping for school supplies, about MIDDLE SCHOOL ORIENTATION?? Not this mama.

And yet we are the lucky ones (in my world, anyway). School has not started yet where I live; it's still two weeks away! We live in the glorious state of Minnesota where there is an actual law forbidding school to begin prior to Labor Day, the better to preserve the vibrant tourism economy of lake country. (Full disclosure: some districts apply for a waiver; mine does not, woot!) Middle school orientation isn't until next week; same with middle school parent night, elementary school open house, etc. etc. etc. And yet. The wheels are in motion.

The upside: just like last year, the fact that I am going back to work as the girls go back to school is an immense comfort. It is distracting; it leaves one far too busy for sentimentality; Genevieve will be with me. The downside: only Genevieve will be with me. The fact that Julia will be going on to middle school this year and no longer under the sweet, small elementary school roof with Genevieve and me every day makes my throat seize with tears.

My bestie reminds me--so wisely, so right--that within a week--probably within a few days!--it will all be routine again. The school year rush. The alarm clock. The early mornings. the frenzied after-school afternoons with the homework, the mail, the feeding of the cat, the snacks, the chores, the cooking of dinner, the sports classes, the music lessons, the nonstop schedule of working-mom life during the go-go school year. What seems sad and terrifying right now will be nothing more than normal by three days in. I believe her! It's happened so many times before.

And I must admit that despite the world-rocking culture shock of suddenly working full-time outside the home while also juggling everything else I always had, and the almost humorous exhaustion that colored September 2014 as a result, there are snatches of lovely memory from last autumn that jump out at me, too, when I envision life in two weeks: the somehow soothing predictability of routine, even when that routine was insanely busy; the weeks I squeezed chilly evening runs into the hour of my girls' Tae Kwon Do classes, dropping them off and then taking off down Maple to get to the trails as fast as I could, turning around just in time, coming back for the last ten minutes of class, chilled and strong; those wild afternoons after school with NPR on and candles lit and the smell of leaves coming in the windows on the breeze all the while a mad dash was going on to get everything done in time and I was fueling myself with one last iced coffee to get me through until bedtime; the comfort of going to work every day and being able to immerse myself in something else all day--and with grown-ups to talk to, to boot!

These days I am a messy mix of both those things: the aching sadness of summer's end, of sending one child to a new school, of another year of my babes growing up, and the invigorating anticipation of the journey we are about to begin, again.

In the middle of all this, our fam took a vacation up north, the girls tested for and earned their purple belts in Tae Kwon Do, I took them on our annual summer day trip to Linden Hills in Minneapolis, Genevieve turned 9, and all the rest. For her birthday, I found a real gem: a girls' t-shirt with the Shakespeare quote, "Though she be but little, she is fierce" on it, from an etsy shop I discovered in one of those weird, tangential, Internet ways, as you do. 

 Truer words were never spoken (written).

With every t-shirt order, the shop owner/shirt designer sends a handwritten thank-you note, on which she writes her shop's motto--the Bible verse Hebrews 12:1, which reads: "Run with perseverance the race that is set before us."  

So that is my guiding mantra for the upcoming weeks and months, as summer ends and a new race begins.

This is the job of us all: to run with perseverance the race that is set before us. That's how it goes. That's how it will go.