I'll Never Write a Novel

The Memoir of a Personal Essayist OR Confessions of a Theatre Widow

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

It's All Temporary

School started on Wednesday. I now have a second grader. And my biggest little man officially begins a five-day school week in Pre-K. I feel tempted to say that this, this life of kids always off to school, is how it will be now and forever. As more of my buddies head off to school it feels like this is all I will know. But, it's not, not really. The beginning of the school year is just a reminder that this is all temporary.

When summer began I mused, "What am I going to do all day, every day, with all three kids home?" I thought, "This is going to last forever!" But, quick as a wink, summer is over, and a new school year begins. And, as it turns out, this is the only time that will be just like this.

This is TR's only year in Pre-K. What a year of firsts and discoveries this is. It heralds greater independence and a genuine understanding of what it is to still be little. Seeing him make his first art project with his classmates was precious and classically TR. Asked to draw a self portrait, he promptly grabbed scissors, cut off the corners of the page, squeezed out some glue, made a mini sculpture of four scraps at the center of the page, quickly colored around them, and looked on with pride. All the while, the other kids who were following the standard rules, coloring with the given colors, as per the directions, looked on with awe and surprise. My problem solver found a new, unique, inventive way to solve for the task at hand, as usual.

This is G's only year in second grade, which is an incredibly special year for kids at her Catholic school. This year is filled with intellectual and monumental spiritual learning. I feel like that is a real gift to my little girl who will excel at the spiritual part, as she always does. It will motivate her at times she might struggle. I am grateful for that. She talks a lot about feeling like she is called to be a saint. We talked about this with a priest friend of ours recently. His advice to a seven-year-old for how to be a saint, "Do everything you love, just invite Jesus along." Her First Communion opens the door for her to do that in a new way, and she will love it. And I will love watching it. And it will only happen once for her first time. Then this moment will be gone, as everything is fleeting.

This is my special time with my two and a half year old pumpkin. Everyone calls him Barley, but he is just my baby. Barley isn't sure he wants to have all this time without his big playmates and best friends home. But a little solo time might be just what he needs as he rolls through this magical stage. More likely, it's just what I need. Then, this time next fall, he will start nursery school. Everyone will get dropped off at 8:20. And I have no idea what will happen next. For now, he's still all mine. For now.

Summer begins and summer ends. Each school year comes and then it goes. First grade, lost teeth, first loves, heartbreaks, all here and gone.

A few years ago I had a conversation with a mama friend in New York when we both had little kids and were pregnant again. We talked about how important it is to treasure these seasons, and also to have the perspective that it's all temporary. You aren't pregnant forever, for better and worse. Labor always end, eventually. You do not have a teeny, tiny newborn for all your days, even when it feels like it through days of lost sleep and sweet-smelling heads. You are not in the throes of potty training forever. You don't have a three-year-old forever (full disclosure, I think three is the hardest and most magical). When I meet a mama, particularly in those last days of pregnancy, I try to remind her that she will eventually have a baby in her arms and that labor is incredibly hard work, but you have to remind yourself that it WILL END. And the reward is awesome. It is purposeful. As I cross more milestones in parenthood, and in life, I keep learning this lesson. It is all temporary, and it is all the better when you live it with purpose.

The book of Ecclesiastes has a famous chapter talking about the change of seasons. It is oft quoted, inspired the song "Turn, Turn, Turn," and even people who don't read the Bible know it. It begins "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." And as it goes, there is a time to born, a time to die; A time to reap and a time to sow, and so on... There is a great payoff if you keep reading:

"What do workers gain from their toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God."

God lasts forever, but everything else comes and goes. But to find joy, satisfaction, and purpose in each of these fleeting seasons, that is a gift. Sometimes the satisfaction may simply be knowing that the toughest of times don't last forever. And how much greater the joy is in times "to be happy and do good while we live."

Of course, I love that part of Life's great gifts is to eat and drink. Exactly. Here's to treasuring the things that matter and letting go of what doesn't, in this moment and all the ones to come.


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10:33 PM  

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