Goodbye September by Jayne Martin-Dressing
Another September is slipping by me amid the rush of back to school, teaching, weekend outings and volunteer activities. I tell myself every fall that this is the season during which I want to slow down. All these beautiful things are happening in nature, and it is finally not too hot, and the windows can be opened and you wake with a coolness in the room. The days are growing shorter and there will soon be less time to enjoy the remaining color of the flowers and pick the last few tomatoes. But inevitably once again I find myself with too many responsibilities, too many places to be, and not enough time to take walks, gather seeds for next year’s garden, smell the smells of fall and slow down long enough to watch the beauty of the changing season.
We have swiftly and not without tears, (almost daily) returned to the routine of school which equals early mornings getting dressed in the dark, rushed breakfasts (not without constant urging to rush more), and the painfulness of waiving goodbye and letting go of little hands that grip tightly to my own. There is a moment, just briefly, after pulling away in my car when I feel completely and utterly useless and confused. The years really do fly by, and there go those children off to preschool and first grade and here I am alone in this car. They can’t really be old enough to be doing journal writing and sandpaper letters, can they? Am I already “that mom”; packing lunches everyday, volunteering with the PTO? When did this happen?
But this moment is fleeting, and I realize that I just have a few hours before it’s time to pick them up again. I remember the emails I need to address and the laundry that’s been in the dryer for 3 days, and the grading that’s piling up on my desk. I try to shake off that nagging feeling that maybe for the first time; they don’t “need” me right now. And the sadness is not because they are starting this wonderful journey with learning, but that suddenly it seems like I need them so very much. And I want to go back and do over the six fall seasons since children have been in my life. Maybe it is the beginning of many instances in parenthood when we wish that we could start over. People are always saying things like, “it won’t matter five years from now if your house was clean,” but nobody has any real good advice on how to make it not matter right now. It’s only in retrospect that we realize the things we’ll have a lifetime to get right, and the things, the people and promises we have only a finite number of hours to nurture and hold dear.
And so I hope that I remember in October to make more leaf piles, and care less about putting down grass seed. I hope we find a lot of mud puddles to jump in and cross our fingers that “machine washable” is for real. I hope we’ll gather loads of shiny buckeyes and go for long walks listening to the leaves crunch under our feet. I hope I can wrestle with this restlessness I feel, and try to squeeze the most out of these shorter days.