Oh, October

There is no rest in October. This is my student’s mom’s saying. She has obviously gotten it figured out after 18 years of no-rest Octobers.

Before I delve into this post, I have to be honest. What I’m about to write betrays some really touching moments that I’ve experienced since my last post.

Like this one

october

Walking to the falls

And this one

running-field-fall

Getting back to my comfort place

And this

gala

Gettin’ dolled up for a fancy night

A parent’s day can be filled with the beauty, the juggle, and the spikes.One moment you’re dressed up and ready for the world, and the next you’re trying to convince your girl to please, please take the Tylenol.

There is a weird elixir coming off those falling leaves that’s making the no-rest October something removed from Halloween orange and on point with feeling midway. I may be grading essays (agh!) or washing dishes (agh!), but if you look closely, between the myriad, I’m kind of just blah. If you’ve seen HBO’s Westworld, my insides are the equivalent of that look the hosts have on their faces when their coders are talking to them. Blank, but hearing.

It’s my experience that my generation of women is always busy. Ladies, if you’re feeling this hybrid of to-do vacuums with this incomprehensible state of restlessness and inquiry, know that I’m right there with you. And if you’re a writer or have any type of creative spirit, this feeling is probably causing major daydreams. It’s the writer hormones going crazy. I’m having fantasies of throwing ungraded essays in a bonfire and spending a week fixing up my house in the mornings, writing all through the day, rocking on my porch in the early evenings, and watching movies like Say Anything at night. I know, I know. This sounds like the life of a retired school teacher. But, hey! It’s more accessible than the alternative side of this coin: running to the nearest travel agent—yes, I want the experience of doing that—and buying a ticket to Antibes, France so I can eat, experience, and repeat.

For the occasions I’ve actually traveled without my kids, I started a tradition of leaving treasure hunt notes for them. They get a series of notes for each day I’m gone, which gives them something for which to look forward.  “Go to the place where Zade loves to play Legos,” and “Great job! You’ll find the next note at the place Layla keeps her erasers.” It gives me joy to imagine the kids running like squirrels to figure out and gather each clue. They go all over the house, trudging over toys and drawers filled with unfamiliar terrain. When the hunt is over, usually culminating at a bag of treats, I get a sense they feel pride but really that they prefer the journey.

Through inevitable terrain, I’ve hit some treasure in this no-rest October, some which reminded me of life years ago, and some that came in the form of advice.

apple-picking

After hearing about us apple picking, my mom’s friend, Shohreh, talked fondly of when she used to run around taking her kids, who are all college graduates now, to this party and that activity, to Disneyworld and Fall Festivals.

But then she said, “I get so frustrated because they don’t remember any of it. I have to remind them of stuff they once did.” This feeds at my worry since there are distinct times I feel we’re chasing memory-making, filling in slots with valuable activities too often. In my defense, our time with them in this way is short. Still, I worry my kids won’t remember or appreciate all the stretching and consideration that makes things happen for them. Even worse, I wonder if all this effort is pointless.

Shohreh saged me. We stood in my parent’s kitchen and she rounded out, “It’s okay. Maybe all those things still did something to change them and make them who they are even if they don’t remember it.” Simple, right? I’m ashamed to say that this line comforted me immensely. I know our goal is to expose them to as much as we can, but I guess I hadn’t put as much stock in the experience as a whole as I did the lasting effects of a memory.

We’ve taken our turns lingering on a nasty cold, and we’ve also managed to find spaces to make memories. I’m looking forward to no-rest October taking an Ambien and having some mercy on us. Until I regain my optimism, I’m going to remember this gesture.

On on a ragged mid-week day, my friend knocked at the door with a get-well basket with homemade soup, all the means and dressings included, and play stuff to get a little girl back on her feet. I was caught completely off guard, and I marvel at the surprise even as I type this. No-rest October, beware of beautiful friends helping to take us through to the next step even as their own backs need some rubbing. #womenrock

surprise-gift

Love in a basket

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Contrast

A hurricane has gravely affected millions of people including many in the American Southeast. News reports have shown tragic photos both of devastated areas in Haiti and of flooded streets in Savannah. By Friday, it was normal to hear people at work say that a relative or friend was evacuating his or her home near the coast to stay with them during Hurricane Matthew.

The last few nights have been iconic, October-evening weather in our part of Georgia. It feels strange to tilt my chin up, hollowing the curve of the cool breeze undoubtedly affected by the hurricane. A destruction was caused by this fragment we’re feeling here. This light wind that I admired tonight cooled down humidity and worked without guilt despite its previous red center. The contrast of where it came from and how it affects is both unfair and undeniable.

It is a leap to connect this contrast with a place I find our family in currently, but there is the shade of peripheral truth in the most benign sense of this connection.  We see contrast past the time. 

In the last few weeks, the most important members of my family have celebrated their birthdays. Since their birth dates are so close together, they alternate between who gets a home celebration and who gets an outside birthday party. While Zade had a casual home celebration this year, Layla had her bowling birthday party. She insisted having it at the same location we celebrated 2 years ago. During her party, Zade had more flickers of sibling jealousy than he had a few years ago; Layla socialized like a tween, not relying on Kal or me to participate. She looked like she preferred to be with her friends, really.  Looking at the pictures lets me see the difference the two years make.

Contrary to the quick default talk parents are used to, it doesn’t feel like I’ve just “blinked and my kids are older.” I know I can’t remember 365 x 7 in any fine detail, but the blend since Layla and Zade were born has felt close to time–like a blur of what we can somehow remember paired with what we felt during parts of it. 

At this party, her shoe size was bigger by 3, her guest list changed to include her new friends, and she picked out her dress and decided on how to wear it. I was caught off guard when one parent asked me, “Is this a drop-off party?” I had no idea we’d entered into the age-stage where this was mostly normal. It hadn’t even occurred to me that this independence is more common now. I can guarantee this wasn’t a question my mom ever heard when I was growing up.

This year Zade’s home celebration was in our new house. It’s not new by move-in date standards, but experiencing little milestones here is, like I’ve inferred before, like being in a relationship where one mentally records, “oh, this is the first time he held my hand, we heard this song, we went there, etc.” I raced home from work to make it festive for him. We ate on Batman plates. We had double-chocolate cake, his favorite. And he took over 40 turns at breaking the Minion pinata that he and Layla stuffed together an hour before Minion’s demise.

Zade uses his hands when he speaks all animated and such. When I visited him at school on his birthday, he accepted my departure and didn’t hold on to my leg. He takes stand-up showers like a little man. And he reads signs while we’re driving.

zade-bday-2016-2zade-bday-2016

Two years ago feels like two years ago. This site chronicles some of the places I’ve been physically and emotionally. Two years ago around this time, I wrote about how I wanted to reconnect with writing, and I posted about getting Halloween decor. Also, I wrote about how we just separated the kids rooms and got them new sets.

Much of that language is true now–home style changes, Halloween decorations, writing goals–and yet the contrast is significant because the edges that meet together from this space have felt movement and growth.

What started out for me on this blog has moved into another tier; what notes I’ve captured about my family has evolved into chronicles I can juxtapose when it’s necessary. Contrast reminds us of what is irreversible. It encourages us to nestle up to that one defining effect–change.