A fresh school year, a season of gratitude
We’ve been back to school now for a couple of weeks and this year is already a momentous one. Jude began fifth grade and Archer began 3 year old preschool. So you can imagine all the feelings swirling about as I dropped off Jude first (who requested that I walk him in the building but OMG NO NOT UPSTAIRS) and then shuffled Archer over to his class where he happily trotted in and barely looked up when it was time for me to go.
I admit that I spent the rest of that first day in a weird dual melancholy and relief. Summer is hard, plain and simple, especially at the end when all the dollars have been spent, all the popsicles have been eaten, all the swimming has been … erm, swum. But then all of a sudden my boys were bigger, and heading towards another milestone.
Middle school feels premature to me in fifth grade somehow, but he’s proven that he’s ready. And the anti-helicopter parent in me is grateful for the opportunity to encourage some independence and more responsibility.
Meanwhile, Archer Bryce is living his best life in preschool. He’s so disappointed on the mornings when it isn’t his day to go and I have a feeling that he’s going to bloom bigtime this year. Every day when he gets in the car after school he happily chirps all the things that happened at school. On the first day, he said in awe, “MOM. They had CHOCOLATE MILK! And SPAGHETTI!!!!”
He’s also been asking to pray as we sit down to dinner. “Dear God,” he began the other night, “Fanks so much for going to weight watchers with Mommy, and for eating at Johnnie’s, and for taking a nap and for then going to get Jude from school. A-MEN.”
I feel myself starting to relax and unfold a bit too as we adjust to our schoolyear schedule. I relished every last bit of the summer, together with my boys and no restrictions. Sleeping in, staying up late, endless trips to the lake where our relationship roots have deepened and strengthened. But I love this new season too and the structure helps me appreciate the downtimes when there is no structure.
And in many ways I feel like I see glimpses of life moving on without my mother. My grief ebbs and flows, but the stretches in between those waves are growing longer and longer. I went to see Mamma Mia 2 with Jude in July and the entire plot revolves around Donna being gone and how will her daughter ever go on. In the final scene, as beautiful as it was rendered, I sobbed in the dark, clutching Jude’s hand to mine. I fell down into a deep grief spiral like I hadn’t experienced since Christmas. But much like my Grandmother used to say, “This too shall pass.” And it did.
It’s this strange gift of grief – as I’ve said before, my perspective has shifted irrevocably in the importance of all the seemingly mundane moments of motherhood. And my joy has started to slowly creep back; instead of just tears stuck in limbo, I’m once again finding my voice.