School started a month ago. I wish I could say I started the year off productively or energetically, but in reality, I have been dragging. Like really dragging. I knew the first couple of weeks would be hard, because they always are. Summer is my favorite time of year as I get to be with my daughters, enjoy them, know them, love them. This summer was especially magical as our family got extra time in Wisconsin on the lake, our happy place. So come August 12th, I knew. I knew as I shed the annual tears the first day of school. I knew during the craziness of sports tryouts. I knew during back to school nights and parent meetings.
But then the first couple weeks were over and I still dragged. One afternoon with a full to-do list I just took a nap. One night after getting home from Uber mom duties at 9:30 p.m., I cracked a bottle of wine and drank half of it, by myself, watching “Younger” and wishing I was.
“So why is the start of this school year so much harder for me?” I kept asking myself. Asking friends who were feeling the same way. Why is it SO much harder?
And then this morning I went on a run (ok, a jog) up in Keystone (my Zen place) and I finally got my answer.
As I was rounding a turn on the trail listening to the sounds of the river beside me, all of a sudden, a mountain biker flew through and I was forced off the path into some bushes. He apologized and asked if I was ok, and a little stunned, but ok, I replied “yes” and got back on the trail. But then the tears came. And came. And came.
Was I hurt? No. Why was I crying? What the heck? And I asked my Angels, “Why am I reacting like this? What is going on?” And their answer came immediately.
Oh, dear Lord is it a hard concept but it is so true. Just as I had no control of that mountain biker rounding the turn, I have lost most control of my daughters. Not all out control, but the kind of control I used to have when they were younger. Yes, they still live under our roof, Craig and I still make the rules, we are still “in charge,” but the control I used to have as a mom every day knowing where they were, knowing who they were with, even knowing what they were eating, that is gone.
Now, I wave in the driveway every morning as my two high schoolers wave back at me and drive off to school. Into the rush hour traffic. Onto the road. Out into the world. I have no control.
Now, I drop my seventh grader off at the school entrance every day and after she turns her head and smiles at me she is off to the middle of middle school (which God, we all remember right?) and I have no control.
Now, all three daughters have activities until late hours, everyone eats dinner at different times and I struggle how to figure out how to get them each a good meal and how the heck to serve dinner at three different times. And then when they actually are all home it’s homework, homework and more homework. (Why are they giving so much!?). I have no control.
Now, the weekends come and everyone has something every day. As they should. But I have no control.
Sure, I have control of curfews and allowance and not letting them walk out of the house in shorts with a hole in the butt, but in reality, the control I had when they were younger is no more.
Do you remember the days when you chose every meal? Every play date? Even every cute little outfit?
Do you remember the days when they hid behind your legs or just wanted to be held?
Do you remember the nights of choosing bedtimes and reading them books and singing them a song before they closed their eyes?
I thought about all these things as I jogged on this morning through my tears and realized that was exactly my slump. As much as I am celebrating all that my daughters are doing now (because I am so, so proud of them and so love this stage of life!) I do think I needed a minute (well, a month actually) to mourn my loss of control.
And as I realized this and wiped away tears, suddenly another mountain biker came into my path, but she stopped and moved over and I didn’t have to alter my course. We waved and said good morning and I thanked my Angels for the message.
I can resent losing control and cry after being pushed off the trail or I can accept the loss, recognize it, say hello, and then smile and keep on jogging.
And I also realized the one thing I do have control of is my reaction to things. And this is one thing I will always have. I cannot always control what happens to me, or to my daughters, but I can control my reactions. I can choose slump or smile. I can choose mourning or celebrating. I can choose to go on a jog or take a nap.
So today I am choosing to pull myself out of this school slump. To recognize, that yes, I am sad that my daughters are older and independent and need me less, but also celebrate how happy I am that they are older and independent and doing exactly what they should be doing. And know that they still do need me, just in a different way.
And while I am surrendering my slump, a little voice in the back of my head also reminds me,
“And you are one day closer to summer…..”
Thank you Angels.
Blessings and love for a beautiful school year ahead.