Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Transition:  (Merriam Webster's third definition) an abrupt change in energy state or level... usually accompanied by loss...

The first day of school has come and gone; it was both time for this to happen, and too soon.  As I remind my children on occasion, all good things must come to an end - and yet it is hard to let go of what was so good.  Last Friday, we spent the day at the pool with friends, then enjoyed a delicious dinner at my parents' house.  Saturday was a family day playing in the lake and riding on the pull-behind on the boat.  On Sunday, Jeff took the older boys out for an afternoon of golf while Pax and I spent the afternoon in preparation for the week ahead.  We made lasagna for one night's dinner.  Then we made pot pie.  We baked a chocolate chess pie, and then we made homemade granola bars. We cleaned out the freezer, set the table, swept the floor, prepped the lunches, laid out clothes for the morning.  After a delicious dinner filled with happy conversation on Sunday evening, we all lingered at the table, Jeff and I savoring our wine and our children.  But it was not enough; I could no longer stave off the Sunday night blues.  My angst in letting go of summer and moving on to a new school year was evident in the nonstop preparations of the afternoon, the only part of the transition over which I had any control.  

While I sometimes found the days of summer long and exhausting, I also knew them to be rich, fulfilling, rewarding.  Our memory tree is overfilled with moments we must not forget, and I am largely responsible for making those happen.  And so these transition days stand in stark contrast with the summer we so deeply enjoyed.  The transitions are so tough.  Changes in routine are hard for Aidan, and yet routine is what makes him thrive.  The days are simply too long and too exhausting for Leo.   As a young, fairly inexperienced, and child-less teacher, I used to parrot what I heard my mentor teacher telling parents as they expressed surprise at how delightful we found their children to be.  I told them that many children reserve their best selves for school, and save the hard stuff for their parents, at home.  Indeed, we are "lucky" in this way.  I feel empty as the bus pulls away after a difficult morning of re-establishing a school routine with a strict timeline.  I feel frustrated when the bus finally arrives in the afternoon, only to meet two hot, sweaty, angry brothers who have spent the ride home fighting with one another, seemingly forgetting all the laughter they shared this summer over Lego building and stop-motion video production.  I feel exhausted by the patience required in the evening as Leo falls to pieces with sheer exhaustion, screaming at the top of his lungs in frustration, crying and thrashing and lacking all ability to accept the quiet words and hugs I am attempting to offer.  I feel utterly clueless about their days at school, days that just a week ago, I knew every detail of so intimately.  Perhaps that's exactly what I miss the most:  the intimacy of our time together.  I miss them.  I miss the time when it was me who got a good chunk of their best selves.  I miss my kids so much, the very kids who, as I proclaimed to anyone who would listen, were driving me batty just last week.

Gathered around the table for dinner last night, we each shared our good part, bad part, and silly part of the day.  Pax announced, "I have two bad parts of my day.  My first bad part was that Aidan left this morning.  My second bad part was that Leo was not here to play with me."

In these transition days, even as I celebrate their successes at school - loving their teachers; watching their faces light up as they describe new friends; listening to tales of happy reunions on the playground - I feel the same as Pax, for there has been an abrupt change in my energy state, accompanied by feelings of loss... for time with Aidan.  For time with Leo.

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