Panorama

I am not a night owl. The closest I get to one is in the summer when I’m not exhausted enough to want to sleep just yet. I love the dark sky on the way to work and the promise of the eventual sunrise. There are some hectic mornings where I’m just lucky I didn’t forget to put on a bra and that I got all the lunches made in time, but there are other smooth mornings where I may even stop to get something warm to drink, those mornings when I walk to the school building not looking forward to the doors but looking up past them, noticing the trees changing and the sky lightening up.

I set four alarm times on my phone before I go to sleep at night. After I get up, my mornings are often filled with checks, my eyes darting from my task to my phone, a consistent check of the minutes, counting backwards to see how much time is left before Layla’s shoes need to be tied. The inevitable rush to be somewhere that yanks us from side to side can make us blind sometimes.  I’m consistently aware that I’m taking something for granted. I want to gently scold myself with lines from that beautiful Lauryn Hill song, “It could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard…you let go, and I’ll let go, too.”

It reminds me of the seasons and how unconsciously nature handles its responsibilities— so similar to how I feel I handle mine, doing what needs to be done for the next phase, but I struggle at times to see the full beauty in it all. I’ve found myself exhausted at the never-ending clutter of life. It’s like the more I do, the less I do.

The fall checked me this year. It’s been quietly waiting for me to see that it’s arrived. Patient like a great grandmother who has seen it all, autumn calmly sensed I wasn’t appreciating its brilliance. It tapped me quietly on the shoulder on a rushed trip to a pumpkin patch. A Halloween custom nodded in its direction as well.

Kids and Dooney at Big Springs

Kal and Kids on a hayride

Layla in awe of pumpkin

Layla enjoying the fruits of her labor

Zade and pumpkin

Zade enjoying his pumpkin design

I took the day off on Friday to be a volunteer at Layla’s school. I helped over 140 kindergartners make black cats out of paper plates. Afterwards, we ate lunch in the cafeteria amongst electric personalities, and I read to the kids before the end of the school day. We surprised Zade and picked him up early from his school. We got home in time to rest a bit and get costumed up again to attend a big Halloween party at her school. The day turned out just how I envisioned it when I first decided to devote my time. But by the end of the night, I needed complete silence.

I felt like I did all the right things: I showed Layla I care about her environment at school and connected with her in her new world. When I got home, though, I felt depleted. I didn’t feel fulfilled. It’s so hard for me to write this because it feels dismissive of how deeply I love my children.  It’s not fair to say that I didn’t feel lucky to see Layla so happy or so grateful at her excitement to share her space with me. I tried so hard to tap into the moment, to not feel tired or even regretful that I didn’t share some of that daytime with just myself. How can we live in the present, I ask myself, when it takes so much to get to the present? Truly though, the most frustrating aspect of that day is that all of it—all that effort—wasn’t enough for me to just be full.

On my last day in New York this summer, I gasped for the moment to be with my kids again.  I know that my happiness relies on their happiness. But that’s the biggest part, not the only part, right?

Trees line up in Athens

Thank God for the trees. I saw fall recently, trees going from green to red to orange to yellow. Nature is the vast and infinite landscape that can either mirror or correct my blurry vision. It’s when I look up that I feel I’m talking back at myself and remembering me, the wistful girl who stared out so many windows, romantic in how she saw each person, and felt engaged in her daydreams even when she was alone, or the woman who still embraces these qualities and has some life experiences to deepen them.

Window in Athens

At the end of the day, my way home from work is the small pause from mother, wife, and teacher. The moment I’m by myself for long enough has no role. It takes some time to quiet my mind from the first draft reactions to the day. And after 20 minutes, I take a few deep breaths and breathe out a loud exhale and slowly start building my way back up to me.

Fall pic 1

I saw the fall because it made me see it. It caught me like those slender mornings. Leaves fall off trees and the earth gets cooler, but it all looks so beautiful standing outside of it. I have to trust that my own realities look just as poetic when I take big steps back to see the panorama. I have to forgive myself for not feeling full when I don’t.

I have to see the human nature of it all.

October 1st

A season has passed since I’ve connected here.  The way one has the best intentions to call a cousin to check on her or to visit a friend she hasn’t seen in a while, I have known I’ve wanted to come back here.

Confession: I’ve been having an affair with really good TV. I’ve been allowing characters and intense plots to give me that ZAM, a feeling I described to my good friend today.

I suppose ZAM is the spike of intensity and creativity and rebellion that lays around in me for a bit and then flares up. Whenever my life gets the busiest, even through the heaviness in my bones or the dull headache from a busy day with students, I crave it. But instead of writing patiently, I watch. I leave on the light on the bookshelf in my room, and I let Showtime scratch the itch.

In my defense, it’s been a very busy few months. Days and weekends have been packed.  I know I will miss these days when hours fly so fast, when the day is mostly structured around my little kids at home and my young adults at work. I’ll remember this sometimes and try so hard to lasso the moment, but I admit that sometimes I just want no noise, no questions, and nothing to consider.

So I trade some sleep, a precious currency, with a show. A little vacation. I’ve learned long ago that having some sort of a plan makes flexibility much more enjoyable. That said, I have let some overplanning happen, and I’m looking forward to that winding down a bit.

Took the kids to a softball game at school

Took the kids to a softball game at school

Recently, we re-did the kids rooms so each child has his own space. Originally, I wanted the kids to have bunk beds and share the same room until they grew out of it naturally, but I noticed that the age gap between Layla and Zade affected Layla. Whereas Layla respects the process in her playtime, Zade’s the center of his own world. We did lots of purging and creating to give them their own rooms. I’m grateful that they play together even more now than before the new rooms, and I’m enchanted with their little pink and blue spaces. Layla and Zade celebrate birthdays close together, and they are definitely buddies, so maybe a little space will let them grow even stronger while strengthening their relationship simultaneously.

Sky

Tomorrow is October 1st, a marker of the fall for me. Both kids were born when the leaves were just starting to turn, and I met motherhood those few months before the winter. My favorite season smells of cinnamon and cool night-time air. I know it’ll be a little while before we’re in the heart of Fall, but I’m so eager for orange and black decorations and trips to Hobby Lobby with Layla. I can’t wait to watch them stare at the jack-o- lanterns in awe and to get them dressed up in costumes.

Layla and Zade Jack

In the limited time after my kids are tucked asleep and some of my nightly to-do is done, I plan to make this work again so I can continue to lasso moments and reflect.  A season is too long to put off writing–even for casual ZAM.