zookeeper

It’s becoming even more obvious to me lately how much of a lifeline writing was for me in some darker moments because as I settle in to life in our little circle of three and things become comforting habit instead of constant chaos, I have to remind myself to make time to write – whereas there were stretches of months at a time when I felt a burning need to record things here and couldn’t rest until I did. So this is me showing up tonight with no grand agenda.

Right now the kids are asleep, and I am in recovery mode from a week which was insane in every way. The summary is that Jude got sick which is no big deal, but it was the flu. And it required close to 8 days of care before he could finally act relatively normal again (just this morning). I feel like if you walked into my house on most days, you’d think we have it all together here with a good system, not that things are perfect or spotless, but that we are out the door at the same time everyday and doing our usual routines to get my kids where they need to be. Kid sickness is the fastest way to derail the train though. It’s on those days that I suddenly realize it is all held together with twine and just barely balanced.

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I love that Norah can come to work with me. Our on-site preschool is amazing in pretty much every way. Great teachers, caring environment, and steps from my office. But it inevitably creates this dynamic that I am the only one who really knows her schedule and how to get her there and has reason to drive that direction. It’s a haul from both her father and my mom who are the two people I have to call on when things happen that interrupt the daily grind. Jude’s school is 6 minutes from home, but it is much the same scenario. I am the one who knows what he is doing and when and what days he needs after-school care and how to pack his lunch and all the other details. I’m not special for this. It is almost always moms in this position somehow.

But then something happens that prevents you from doing the usual, and it feels like nobody can do things the way you can because you are the one to always do it. And the whole scenario ends up heaping more stress than necessary on everyone involved but especially mom. And truth be told, nobody else can orchestrate the schedule the way you can, and you are right about that. But it gets done anyway. Or most of it. We survive.

I save yoga and any semblance of relaxation for the hours after kids are in bed. But Thursday, I attempted to do a quick video while they were up. Sukhasana is not so relaxing with a three year old crashing in your lap.

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How do we get it done with little kids underfoot? Do you ever think of these things? (Talking mostly to those of you in my “season” of little ones at home.) I get frustrated with myself for not quite being the teacher I wanted to be on any given day or not cleaning that closet that I’ve been staring at for months or not prioritizing exercise or not writing something for a particular submission I have my eye on… But then I take a step back and realize that this entire three-ring circus is so ridiculously batty that it’s actually funny sometimes when you are brave enough to laugh. The fact that I shower and show up for work and make complete sentences on this screen is actually an accomplishment in light of what I encounter on a daily basis.

On Sunday evening, I made a whole chicken in the pressure cooker and had my weekly meals planned around it. I left the plate on the counter when I went upstairs for a minute and came back down to see that our dog had eaten every last bit of it. Jude spent all day Tuesday cuddled up next to me on the couch when I had loads of midterms to grade that were not happening due to his constant demands. Norah’s classmate bit her on the hand on Wednesday, and instead of telling her teacher, she bit him back. On the face. On Thursday, she got in trouble for calling someone “Stinkybutt” in the bathroom.  I awoke on my 35th birthday with 4 hours of sleep in the midst of a kid with a scorching fever who woke up so many times the night before that I lost count.

It makes me laugh when I stop to think about how I like to say lately that my life has calmed down exponentially since this time last year. It has. I’ve moved and settled and don’t feel the least bit of strangeness signing my maiden name. I’ve trudged head-first through the murkiest waters to arrive in a solid place on the other side. I’m feeling a burning sense of fulfillment and curiosity that I haven’t felt in years. But I still live in a zoo. I tend to overlook that sometimes.

And we all do, I think. So if you are reading this in the midst of caring for your own little people and juggling school and work and baseball practice and therapy appointments and mortgage payments and PTA meetings and grocery budgets, this is me waving from my own version of that tale to say I see you and I feel you, and you are doing a great job. I am too, I think. Even among the madness.

 

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right, left, right, left

Monday night I did my usual routine with the kids. Read a couple books, talk a bit, say our “blessings” as we call it, and relax a minute as they drift off. I normally let them drift to sleep and then head back downstairs for a little time on my own – practical things like cleaning the kitchen and packing lunches or necessary things like yoga or writing. But Monday I laid there with them a minute, noticed the clock said 8:20, and then woke up to see 1:40 staring back at me.

I’m not sure how I can feel so exhausted and heavy when I just had a weekend snowed in alone and 48 hours to reset. How does that happen? The energy reserves seem to drain faster than they refill in my life.

There is always something to do. Always. I got a reminder email about a kindergarten reading incentive chart that is due next week, and tonight I managed to look at our bookshelf and scribble in the titles of what we’ve read recently as Jude was bathing and Norah was brushing her teeth. It’s the tiniest thing, just a list of books. But all the little things make your life so crowded. There is always something.

Sometimes I want to know who these moms are with pristine homes and matching clothes and cars that aren’t littered with water bottles and food wrappers. Do they have less on their to-do list than I do? Probably not. But the older I get and the farther I get into parenthood, the less I even strive for that anymore.

My kids are clean! Their lunches are packed, and their bellies are full! We have a house where I can keep all the things we need! And we occasionally have fun! All of these things feel like accomplishments lately. I’m grateful for all of it.

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Right, left, right, left. Just keep walking. They look to me for these million things that have to get checked off the list as we engage in our daily lives. And sometimes that can feel like a thankless task, as any mom will tell you. But the daily grind is where it’s at. I think one day they will see that more clearly. And even now, it’s in between these million busy moments that you can steal seconds of insight. It’s easy to get tired of being the glue that holds together this delicate balance. The chauffeur, the chef, the maid, the tutor, the event planner. So many heavy roles we carry. But without all of these things, I’d have no front row seat to their lives and the million subtle ways they grow and change with every experience.

Now that my two are getting a little older, I think a lot about what they will remember about this time in our lives. I don’t know what they will recall, what they will associate with me and with these years. But I think we are seeing each other in the truest way, even among the busy daily demands. They see me for what I really am and give me space to grow into something else. And I strive to do the same for them in return.

The hump is over, and we are completely in a new normal. Our rhythm feels worn and comfortable, even among the chaos.

 

 

on day 341

I’m hearing the word adulting all the time lately. We’ve somehow turned “adult” into a verb, it seems. Like other trendy words (literally, random, totally) it will have its moment in our modern lexicon and then fade. It’s starting to wear on me a bit, and it’s mildly annoying to hear my students using it all the time. But I see the value in having a word that captures the essence of all those practical, not-fun tasks we have to check off the list.

I’m writing this as I recover from periodontal surgery. Which was every bit as unpleasant as it sounds. But it was necessary, and though I could have perhaps put it off one more year, I decided I might as well bite the bullet and do it. Fork over the $700 (gulp) that I would much rather spend on something else or save. But sometimes life demands that you put on your big girl panties, as some people say, and tackle the unpleasant mess in front of you.

I have done a lot of that this year. Countless unpleasant tasks: meeting with attorneys, paying said attorney, selling a house and dealing with the hassle of showing it with 2 little kids and a full-time job, buying another house, changing my name on a million legal documents, trading in a car, dealing with insurance hassle when an inattentive driver hit the car I bought only 9 months earlier. … The list goes on and on and on and includes managing a thousand tiny details to make my life run smoothly on a daily basis. …. Kids, house, work, all of it….  At the risk of using that trendy word one too many times, I have been doing nothing but adulting for the vast majority of 2015. Frankly, I’m growing weary from it.

One of the biggest lessons of growing up – especially in America in our puritanically based, capitalistic, work harder to do better kind of society – is to learn that you don’t always get a prize. This is life. It can be full of stuff you don’t want to do, and you don’t check a bunch of things off the list and then never have to struggle again. You aren’t doing something wrong if you have difficult tasks in front of you. You don’t somehow arrive at a place where everything is magic and sunshine and roses. Perfection is an unattainable quest. The beauty lies in those tiny seconds in between, and it’s our job to find it among the mess.

I think I like it better here in real life anyway.

 

Family Pics 2015   Family Pics 2015

 

Family Pics 2015

We worked with Andrew Thomas Lee again for photos a couple of weeks ago. I’ve known him for years, and I have his images of my growing kids all over my walls. His work has grown a different direction recently, and he doesn’t do family photo sessions any longer. But he was kind enough to meet up with the kids and me at a green space in Atlanta a few days before Thanksgiving and get some images I will cherish for a long time.

Family Pics 2015

Family Pics 2015   Family Pics 2015

The kids were far from cooperative in the traditional sense. It took a lot of coaxing for Norah to get down from my arms, and at one point they ran off to play with someone’s dog on the other side of the park. By the end of the session, Norah’s hair bow was ripped out, and her shoes were off. Andrew is incredibly patient and such a talent though. He always manages to get some really authentic images that convey the real us.

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I live with these two kids everyday, and it’s sometimes a blur. But I look at these photos, and I can see it how I feel it in those still moments, those tiny spaces in between the chaos.

Family Pics 2015

 

Family Pics 2015

 

Family Pics 2015

Family Pics 2015

So here I am on the 341st day of 2015. My mouth is swollen. I’m a little fuzzy from post-surgery meds. My house is usually messy, and my plate is always too full. But there will never be another December 7, 2015 again.

I am really thankful to see 2015 make its way out as it’s been so full of hard things. But I can’t bring myself to see it as a terrible year. More than any other year in my life, it has been a year when I know I’m really alive. The pain and growth and change – all of it for the better. I see that now.

Jen Pastiloff posted something this morning urging readers to “Take a picture of your face. Remember that in ten years’ time, you will be amazed at how gorgeous you WERE. Be amazed NOW.” This is so true, not just about what we look like, but about all the other details in our lives that seem overwhelmingly difficult in the moment. Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. So just for today, I’m seeing it.

I’m looking past all the challenges to see my beautiful little family – all three of us. To see the life we’ve created this year.

Family Pics 2015

I’m still standing. And the view from here is pretty spectacular. Bring it, 2016. I’m ready.

Advent

Thanksgiving came and went, and Christmas time is here. I know this is cliche, but how is 2015 nearly over already? I can hardly believe tomorrow begins December.

My mom indulged my kids and all their little cousins with a pretty fun surprise on Thanksgiving night as we celebrated at my grandparents’ house.

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My normally energetic boy got pretty shy when it was his turn to talk to Santa.

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But Norah talked his ear off as expected. Like most siblings, my two are opposite in so many ways.

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We drove home in the dark seeing a few houses already lit up, and they talked a mile a minute – about Christmas and Santa and a million other things. I thought for sure they’d be asleep by the time we got home, but they weren’t. The holidays bring so much wonder and excitement for kids. It brings it all back in the best way.

They spent the next couple of days with their dad, and I got to use the time to wrap up some grading piles and get out the decor. When they arrived home on Sunday morning, we got started on the tree. It’s little and covered with kid-crafted things and nothing is symmetrical, but it’s ours. Our little tree and our little house. And a house never feels as cozy as when it’s twinkling inside with Christmas lights.

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We finished the afternoon with hot chocolate and a movie, and they were content and happy.

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Tonight I’m filling the Advent calendar with our little activities for the month of December, gems we can enjoy everyday for the next few weeks…. make cards for your teachers, eat pancakes for dinner, wrap a present, go driving in pj’s and look at Christmas lights…. The smallest things can make them so happy. And me, too.

I see the value of tradition during the holidays more than ever. These are the moments they will remember as they grow, and that idea of creating memories for your kids is both the heaviest and the most beautiful part of motherhood to me. I’m creating the soundtrack and images that will replay for them in moments of nostalgia decades from now. And truthfully I don’t even know what will stick, what will survive the years and emerge as the things they love the most.

It’s the smallest things that they seem to remember so far – never the gifts under the tree. It’s the moments shared among the three of us that are creating a home and a life for them.

I hope I can calm myself for a few sacred minutes everyday in this last stretch of 2015 to remember that. I look around and see so much comfort and abundance. This is it. Not a year into the future and certainly not my past. This is life as it’s really happening and not a stepping stone to something else. I’m grateful for all of it  – for the two little people I get to share these traditions with and for all the magic that December holds.

on fear and feeling

I’m writing in some stolen moments this week to get a few things out. There’s a change in the weather a bit, and the academic year is picking up. There’s a change in me too, somehow. I feel life moving forward, turning a page. I think it’s the one-year mark I am nearing, and it is set against the backdrop of this time of year when even nature reminds us that a chapter is closing. Letting the dead things fall is sometimes more beautiful than you expect it to be. I hope to feel lighter and lighter as the leaves change this year. Dead weight shedding from my own life. Making way for new skin.

Jude had his tonsils and adenoids removed on Monday. It’s a simple procedure, and kids get it done all the time. It’s his fall break this week, and I scheduled it now so that he wouldn’t be missing much school as a result. I’ve been anxious about it as I’m the first to admit I carry a little bit of an anesthesia phobia. (Hence that time I had a baby in a bathtub.) I woke him on Monday morning long before the sun and loaded him in the car to drive to the surgery center.

When we got there, I was blessed with a familiar face as my good friend and I figured out a little while prior that both of our kids were having procedures done that day. Their surgery was 2 hours before ours, so we didn’t get a lot of time together, but seeing her smiling face was such a clear reminder that I am not alone in this. And it was the most bizarre coincidence that we even ended up there together. We are in two different school systems, so she wasn’t scheduling around fall break as I was, and our kids were having different procedures performed by different doctors. And yet we ended up in the same waiting room.

Nothing is an accident. I’ve come to believe this so strongly in my recent year. Life places before us exactly what we need at the exact time that we need it. You just have to open your eyes to see the magic of timing even when it doesn’t at all coincide with your expectations.

So we went back to the pre-op room and got him in the gown to bribe him to choke down his meds, and they allowed me to accompany him to the OR to hold his hands as the anesthesia mask set in. Once he was safely asleep, I should leave and wait and they’d come find me. I knew it would be a little creepy, but I expected after our many conversations on what to expect that he’d just lie there while I comforted him and go to sleep calmly under the mask.

That is not at all what happened. He refused the mask, and they had to hold it on him. He was panicked and screaming and I was holding his hands. He wouldn’t connect with my eyes the way I wished he would, and he was darting all around the room with his anxious glance. The florescent lights and sterile smell of an OR. Panicked little boy on the operating table. Then just like that his little eyes closed and his screaming stopped. It’s only tonsil surgery. I knew he’d be fine. But I walked out of that operating room with such a lump in my throat.

I only waited 25 minutes before hearing from the surgeon that it all went well. Only another half hour after that before they wheeled him to me, all groggy and confused and sweet and tired. But during that hour, my mind went to the what if, what if, what if place that parents know all too well. And my thoughts meandered to parents who sit in waiting rooms with much more serious procedures and less guaranteed outcomes. It is hard. Having a child feels like part of you is just raw and open almost all the time. What I did before I had these two and where I’d be without them is something I cannot comprehend.

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It’s exhausting sometimes, isn’t it? Just to be a thinking and feeling person in the world. I think and feel too much, it seems. I’ve spent much of my life wishing I didn’t think so much, wishing I felt less deeply – because truthfully I can look at people who don’t think and do not feel below the surface level, and their lives look so much easier at times.

I was listening to Rob Bell recently (love his podcast), and he talked a bit about what he calls “the wisdom that lies beyond wisdom.” We have the first “wisdom,” the lessons we all want to know and teach our kids: be kind, work hard, choose a partner carefully, make good choices, take care of yourself, etc. Then we have the wisdom that lies beyond that. The wisdom that only comes when you do all those things and it still falls apart. That’s when you realize that really all that matters is now. That bad things happen to good people. That it is up to us to make the meaning of them.

There is no value in living in the past or wishing for the future. I’m realizing how tenuous it all is. All of it. None of us can say oh, that would never happen to me because there are no guarantees like that. Life never stops surprising me.

I’ve been so afraid (and in weak moments, I still am) that events in my life would leave me weaker than they found me, would leave me incapable of doing certain things in the future – like loving or trusting or feeling joy. I’m finding that the opposite is true though. I am a better lover than ever. Not in the modern vernacular sense of lover, obviously. But in that I love and love and love without expectation now. Loving on my kids, my experiences, my friends, and these singular passing moments in my life that won’t happen again. Because who knows where any of this is going or what lies ahead, and does that matter anyway? I can sink into a moment without wondering how it fits in some grand scheme. I can be grateful for the now without expectation of the next moment.

I look at Jude’s experience this week and think about how scared and panicked he was, how he looked for me when he woke up. How he needed me to be there and say things were good and not scary. And of course, I knew that it was simple and not scary, but now I also know deep down that really everything is scary. All the good stuff anyway. And as a kid, I think you assume that you grow up to feel in control at all times and never feel scared or vulnerable.

But feeling and thinking and staying open in a world with no guarantees is the opposite of fearlessness. I’m learning how good it feels to let it all in, to feel alive as all the dead weight sheds away.

the daily grind

Labor Day weekend is here, and though it is still hot in Atlanta, it somehow represents the beginning of fall.  It’s weird the things you recall years later, the things that stick. This weekend marks four years ago that I found out I was pregnant with Norah.  Four years is not all that long ago, not at all. Yet so much has changed since then. Everything.

I am here in this season with two kids and their own little personalities and quirks. Life is busy busy. Out the door each day at 7:30, all three of us dressed and breakfast eaten. Wave Jude on the bus. Drive in listening to Norah’s daily chatter. (And that girl shares A LOT!) Prep and grade and teach, pick up Norah. Head home. Get Jude. And sink into those glorious three or so hours between the end of our school day and bedtime. Bathe both kids. Bedtime stories. An hour to myself downstairs. Sleep. Repeat.  A month into the school year, and we have a rhythm. It feels good – busy but comfortable.  Weekends are a slow and easy pace when they are here, and even the smallest outings can become special. We have so much time just the three of us, and I’m grateful for the bonds it’s cementing.

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I think back to four years ago and finding out I was expecting a second child and all the questions that I examined in light of that. Will I be a good mom to two?  Can I handle all the demands of a second? Will my relationship with my first feel different?  And even stranger to me is to consider all the questions I didn’t even know to ask. I never expected to be back at work when she was only fifteen months, and at the time I found a little plus sign on a stick, I saw a stretch of years in front of me as a stay-at-home mom.  I certainly never expected that I would find the strength to raise these two as a single parent, nor did I know it would be necessary.  What blows my mind more than this is that I could have a reality in another four years that is completely different from the one I’m experiencing now. We really have no clue what the future holds, if we are doing it right anyway.

I see now, as I look back, that I was so busy making other plans for my future that I didn’t allow space for the magic to happen as it could have. So many of my growing pains this past year are a result of my counting too much on the future I was planning with someone else. Listening to what the world tells me I need – a bigger house, a nicer car, vacations, expensive things – and not allowing my inner consciousness to play around a bit and unfold what can be. When Life issued an ax to all those plans and dreams, and I was left to start over alone, it took a little while to listen to my own voice again. I’m listening now.

Our upstairs a/c broke on Wednesday when I was at work, and I didn’t find this out until I walked the kids up at 7:15 for a bath, and as I neared the last step, I felt an almost nauseating heat wave.  Obviously I knew immediately what it was and looked at the thermostat to see a reading of 84. A humid 84. Inside my house. An hour before the kids’ bedtime and after a long day that had us out until 6pm for speech therapy after school. It almost broke me.

And some people might be reading this to say shut up. It’s only air conditioning. Don’t be overdramatic and deal with it. But really, sometimes it is the little things that almost kill you. When I look back at my past few months, it is always the little things that feel heavy. The car trouble. The trips to doctor with sick kids. The broken air conditioner. Sometimes single motherhood can feel like a grand adventure, and as I said this week on Instagram, sometimes it can feel like a pile of shit.  The daily grind alone.

But I plugged in a large fan that my mom brought over for us to use, and I opened a window. The kids came in with arms full of stuffed animals and flashlights and saw this as some fun adventure, a night out of the ordinary. We all piled in the one room with a fan and a bed, and I wished for just a moment that I could see this season through the lens of my future self looking back. When I know I will see the shimmers and adventures and not always remember the pain of daily struggles. One day those rough edges will smooth in nostalgia, and I will just remember the roar of an electric fan and the window open to the rain outside and the two little bodies breathing softly next to me. I won’t remember the sweat and tears and money woes and panic. I really see clearly already that this is the best of times and the worst of times. Sometimes all in one day.

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I read or hear things everyday that work together with other ideas circulating in my head, and it gives me further assurance that there is a greater force at work here and that a new reality emerges when we have the eyes to see it. I hang on to every word, every idea.  I’ve got things scrawled on paper and hanging on my walls. Pinned online, saved anywhere I can.  The written word is a life raft to me. I ran across a Rumi quote this week that says, “You have seen your own strength. You have seen your own beauty. You have seen your golden wings. Why do you worry?”  And I have seen it – my own strength and beauty. I have seen it in these months, and I am counting on it to lead me to some place new that I can’t even imagine right now. And I don’t mean a new house or a nicer wardrobe or a world where I don’t have money panic when things break – because I have seen firsthand how little that matters. But I mean that my entire reality is changing little by little each day to create something richer and fuller, and outside circumstances are losing their power over me. That well of stillness and joy inside is growing louder and deeper everyday.

I follow a couple of yogi Instagram accounts that offer inspiration to me, and I ran across a passage last week from Pink Roses Yogi that spoke to me so much that I couldn’t let it go. “I believe that your tragedies, your losses, your sorrows, your hurt happened for you, not to you. And I bless the thing that broke you down and cracked you open because the world needs you open. I believe that life lessons are less about getting it right and more about getting it wrong. I believe that you are more on track than you feel, even if you don’t feel it – especially if you don’t feel it. For the further you get off track, the closer you actually are to abandoning the wrong path and leaping onto the right one. I believe that you are closer than you think and more qualified in your message than you could ever fathom. …  I believe that the darkness is a birthing process and that, in order to find your light, first you need to venture through the shadows of your ego. I believe that in order to be a light in the world, you first need to come home to who you truly are and then bravely show it to all those around you.”

I’m starting to bless the things that cracked me open. They’ve shown me my own strength in ways I didn’t expect. By Friday, I’d lined up an air conditioning repair service that luckily was not too expensive. We ventured to Jude’s first soccer practice of the season in the hot sun and followed that with a quick dinner out. Then on Saturday I nursed a sick kid yet again with cool washcloths and cartoons and kale smoothies. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is just put one foot in front of the other, again and again. Doing what is needed this very minute and giving little thought to the distant future.  But that is harder than you think in a world that tells us we should always be planning for something bigger and better. We should always be climbing some ladder to a more prominent place. Preferably one with new hardwood floors and granite kitchens and Tory Burch shoes and expensive purses.  Because that’s what shows that you are worth something and you don’t have cracks and bruises.

Broken air conditioning and overflowing laundry baskets and feverish kids and exhausted moments are not what we show the world, but they happen.  And sometimes I feel like I just want a break from the daily woes, but I see that this is where it happens. Where it gets real and where my strength is made.  I’m waving my hand to you today to say that I’m knee-deep in all of these challenges everyday, but I am making it. And I can see the strange beauty in this season.

I’m reading Daring Greatly right now, and in the early chapters of the book, Brene Brown assures us that “the willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time. […] It’s daring greatly. And often the result of daring greatly isn’t a victory march as much as it is a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue.”

I feel this everyday. Battle fatigue punctuated with little moments of joy and a quiet freedom that assures me that my path has already led me to something greater when I just do the task in front of me with love and awareness.

back at it

Jude’s start date was last Thursday, and Norah’s was 4 days later on Monday. My faculty start date is 7 days after hers, and then my students come 7 days after that. All that to say that we are easing into it and getting used to a new routine around here. August is never my favorite month, so many transitions.

Norah was so excited to move up to the “big kid side” of her preschool. There are two hallways and two playgrounds, and this year marks her transition to the older one. She was feeling proud and ready on that first day.

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It’s an adjustment for me, too. It will take a few weeks to get in the rhythm of a new year and our new normal. I think about Jude often during the day, worry that he’s doing alright and getting used to things. I see him a little differently. I’m more mindful of the million things that can happen during the school day and the million ways I hope he stays safe and happy.  (Like adding a sticker over the name of his school in the above photo because the internet suddenly even seems a little scarier, as does the entire world.)   The hard truth about parenting is that if you are doing it right, you are just preparing to let them go. Preparing them to meet the big world outside without your help eventually.

In ways the world seems smaller than it did a month ago though. We are meeting more faces in the neighborhood during our bus stop chats and getting to know other families better through the shared experience of watching little hands wave as they drive away each morning. Norah’s little class has familiar faces she adores and a teacher who has known her for two years already. And though I’m exhausted from my first week back after a summer of leisure, I’m happy to see my colleagues and tread my feet in the familiar setting of my university.

It’s so weird how the world can seem big and small at the same time. There’s a lot out there, but really we all exist mostly in our own little orbits. I’m looking after my own two in all the tiny and exhausting ways moms come to know well – packing lunches, waking them from sleep, listening to stories about teachers and friends, baths, bedtime reading, all the planning of the weekday lives that give us rhythm. There’s so much life in the mundane though. This is where it happens, I’m finding.

I’ve got big hopes for the academic year ahead. Growth in my kids, growth in me, and the combination of burrowing in the comfortable routines we come to know so well and stretching ourselves to new unfamiliar places.