Sunday, September 9, 2012


Ah, the beginning of the new school year, the cooler evening temperatures, and the brilliant fall colors signify one thing - change.  I don't particularly care for change.  I know, it's inevitable and now that we're a couple weeks into school, and I'm not the basket case I was back then, I can finally write about these changes.

The first day of school, I couldn't even come home - spent the entire day out and about so I wouldn't have to face an empty house.  Enjoyed a morning hike with Lucy to one of my favorite spots (pic at left - Dog Lake / Millcreek Canyon), and then babysat my nephew for a few hours.

The panic and tears didn't begin until the next day when the quiet of the house and the realization that we only have a year with Ryan before he's off to college, hit home and hit hard.

I should have known it was coming . . . throughout the summer when I would least expect it, BAM, the tears would start, and before I knew it I couldn't stop.  Something as simple as a song would usually begin the deluge (Jason Mraz's "93 Million Miles" does it every time, and just last week it was U2's "Walk On").  After closer reflection, it's not the fact that school as started again and the house is empty and I'm missing the energy and chaos of the kids, which is all true.  But it's that this season, the transition from summer into fall, and the myriads of changes that are taking place signify something much grander than going back to school.  It's the passage of time. I am mourning the passing of another year my kids have grown and matured, and another year closer to them leaving home.

My planets

Chris sent me this beautifully written article last week with the tag "this reminded me of you and what you're going through right now."  Of course, we're only beginning the college application process with Ryan, but reading this woman's experience was so familiar and her feelings so closely mirrored my own, that I will cherish her essay for many years to come.  The author's metaphor that as mothers we are the "sun" to our "planet" children, and as we raise them they orbit around us and we are always there, shining down on them, keeping them safe, and watching over them.  Then a child leaves his/her orbit, and of course they are still part of our lives, but more like a "shooting star," coming and going, never staying too long, and it will never be the same.

Change.  Transition.  So another year has passed and I should truly celebrate rather that try to hold on to the past.  I've turned to reading Zen philosophy this past week to remind myself to enjoy the present with the awareness that change is always taking place and nothing is permanent, nothing.  And that's the beauty of life.

The Zen proverb, "Let go or be dragged" speaks volumes about letting go of permanence and allowing change into our lives.  I have to let go of my children and some point, but I'm going to be present for them now and really listen and open my heart to them while they are in my orbit.  Letting go of attachments and not fighting change is central to Zen awareness and it's so difficult for me, but I'm getting better.  I'm learning that anything we hold onto only drags us away from truly feeling at peace. As hard as it is to let go of children, of resentment, the need to be right, expectations, and even past friendships that were once crucial to my happiness, holding on will never lead to the peace and serenity necessary to enjoy the present.

Enough of Zen, but I have to say it's really helped (along with yoga, reading "Gilead" yet again, and hiking a few times each week).  Friday morning after I dropped the girls off at school, the sun was rising in the east over the Olympus mountain range and Simon & Garfunkle's Bridge Over Troubled Water was playing (gotta say that the "Essential S& G" is definitely the best music for life's transitions). As my car filled with brilliant September light, I knew everything would be alright. Life will continue to march forward and I'll keep moving along, trying to stay with the beat without looking back and getting trampled in the process.


Kristin said...

"let go or be dragged!" LOL. Is that why I have all this road rash?!

Good advice. Not quite there yet though, the mourning the kids growing up I mean-- having just finished potty training #5, I am MORE than ready to be DONE w/ this stage of life!!!!

Glad to see you back on the blog. Thanks for keeping me on the book club list.

cher said...

Beautiful. I look to you as a wonderful example of how to 'stay with the beat without getting trampled in the process.' Thanks. :)

Michelle said...

I'm not quite at that stage yet either, and have yet to spend much time in a quiet house even though Ainsley started 1st grade, but reading this, and the beautiful article you linked to started my tears. Robbie had an assignment about 9/11, so I pulled out Joey's baby book to show him what I wrote at the time, and the trip down memory lane does not help! Love the zen advice. Also glad you're blogging again!

Melissa said...

Even though I still have a little one at home, I am already at that stage. I've really struggled with "redefining" myself with Peter starting preschool because I've always had a baby or toddler that required my care and attention. The "let go or be dragged" is probably good advice for me right now. Thanks for this post.