We’ve been living well this summer. Lots of camping, swimming, playing. Being, breathing outside. I often say that I am at my best when in nature and it’s true. I believe it for my kids too. And I believe it for us, together as a family. I say we don’t subscribe to any particular faith but do: The Church of Outside.
In the tent, Margot still pinches Ruby in protest of her wearing her hair just like her big sister. On the river, Ruby still turns inside out when she feels a thing is taking too long. It’s not like the journey into the wild alleviates all our suffering. But it all feels so much more darling and manageable out there. We escape to a microcosm where we can’t get away from anything (and yet we are away from everything!); where building a castle out of river rocks with the sibling that just hucked a Go Fish! deck at your head is the meditative answer.
I am always completely honest here and this next subject will not be an exception: I feel dread over the start this year’s school start. Yes, I feel excitement and joy with and for my kids, but me in my selfish little brain and heart? I ache with this change. The truth is, even though my daughters are perfectly happy growing taller and getting older, I’d push the rewind button if it were available to me. Without even checking in with them or my husband.
August 26 marks the end of 7 1/2 years where I’ve been with one or two kids most nearly all day, every day. During these first years of motherhood, I have discovered a deep well of fulfillment, peace and mission. The entire trajectory of my career and lifestyle bent with their births in the most surprising and satisfying way.
Well-intentioned friends are quick to remind me that I write and make things and the expansive time of a school day will feel like mimosas on a mountaintop to my creativity. My autonomous siren will be all “Heyaaaay you sexy six hour chunk of time! Wanna have a threesome with the laptop? I’ll bring my attentive self and so much coffee. Let’s go for a run first. We will get shit done.” They remind me that it’s good for my kids to have enriching experiences without me. My imaginings of their unfiltered thoughts are cut the cord; don’t lose yourself; chill on your sentimentality sister.
I’m not afraid of being alone in our home, or – more to the point – I am not nervous about “what I’ll do with myself” when I’m not with my girls. I look forward to throwing my guts at some projects that have been brewing in my brain for years, waiting for the time…holy shit. This time.
photo by my friend, Sarah
Margot can suddenly swim many laps in the pool and is trying out for the Sound of Music. She’s reading and wants a bikini. She reminds me of an elk. Ruby can climb any tree on this planet. She can make any human laugh, any animal want to cuddle. She reminds me of a caterpillar.
Maybe angst is one strand in the Braid of Change. Nervousness, twisted together with fervor and courage makes a strong rope of Most Things Worth Doing.
I said up there that I’d rewind time if I could but I’d never trade tomorrow for yesterday or vice versa. It’s not wholly true and a silly exercise anyway because – thankfully – we have as much control over the order of time as we do the number of freckles on our daughter’s cheeks (53) and at what age our hair goes gray (32).
Sometimes being in my brain is just plain uncomfortable. Right now I am feeling all the feelings over this impending adjustment. My Braid of Change is more akin to a messy fishtail that’s been camping for a week. And because I plan to camp for the rest of the summer, I am embracing the practicality of the dreadlocked ponytail and focusing on this here: my kids are confident, smart and adventurous. My job is to support them in themselves. They are ready for everything. They are thrilled for school. I am thrilled to watch them shine light on everything in their paths. Go.
Let’s stop thinking about it so much. Let’s just live it up.