“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.” Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”
I gave up even trying to write at some point this summer. Other than a few weeks of scattered camps, I had Audrey at home, plus two part-time jobs I took on. I also had visits from my mother-in-law and brother-in-laws. I decided it was OK to give up on trying to sit down and write. It wasn’t worth the angst it created to be trying to do something and not have the time. And, as I told Audrey the other day as I took out my notecards to jot down a note for a piece- “I’m always writing.” In fact, the majority of my writing doesn’t take place at the keyboard. It takes place all over and in my mind and in the course of months and sometimes years, jotted down on notecards in my purse, collected until my basket’s full and it’s time to empty it out in words. I have collected much this summer. My basket is full.
Today I will keep it short because I am transitioning back to a “school day” schedule, and trying to be kind to myself especially amidst the heavy emotions I always feel at this time of year. My temptation is always to write a lengthy to-do list for my entire life and begin on it straightaway, but instead I’ve chosen to nurture myself with the things that are good for me that I’ve missed this summer. Journaling, walking, writing. It is my daughter’s first day of third grade. There was no lingering, no hug goodbye even at the school door. Just running in with friends, the back of her backpack (and the giant bag of supplies I had to buy for school that she could barely lift). At home, post-PTA parent breakfast, it is quiet while I journal. I hear the sirens again, the ambulance and the fire department’s. I hadn’t heard them all summer having her with me daily. Now I listen again, to see which direction they go in.
One day in July or August, we were pulling out of our driveway, when I commented on how nice our house is. I’m not sure that it really is, but I was trying to be positive and grateful (and I am). We only live in the downstairs portion as it’s broken into two apartments, but it’s an old Victorian house, apparently built in 1878 and also has the claim of being the home where a town hero grew up. “You’re lucky you get to grow up there,” I told Audrey. “So are you,” was her reply. “You’re growing up there too; grown-ups still grow up.” Yes, I am- growing up here alongside her.
There are things to do- the mothers at the PTA breakfast with their phone calendars out were reading off lists of classes and lessons and putting in back-to-school night dates. But I sit here a little longer this morning in the stillness. The evergreens outside my dining room windows are swaying, and I feel their aliveness, their kinship, when I am still like this.