Pass the tissues, please. (Or, How to Effectively Avoid Writing)

apple on bookStaring at the blank page and the flashing cursor tempted me to call it a day before the sun rose. My plan to write in the early morning hours was set before I crawled into bed the preceding night, yet more than 2 hours later I had only cleaned up my desk, balanced my bank account, chatted with my daughters, perused Facebook, and replied to several non-urgent emails. In essence, I was busy avoiding writing. While effective distractions, not one moved the ball closer to the end zone where the “Publish” button waits.

Truthfully, I had done some writing during my reserved quiet time; I started 3 different posts, ideas I’ve had bouncing around for several weeks, and they’re all good, informative, and timely post ideas. With such juicy fodder, I expected the sparks of creativity to magically transform into words with ease, but I hadn’t made it past a single opening paragraph in 2 hours. Rounding the bend into my third hour of stagnation, I noticed a Facebook notification pop up prompting me to, again,  take advantage of the distraction. There, I found this quote shared by my friend, fellow blogger, and inspiration, Cathy Chester of (the really terrific blog) An Empowered Spirit:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway

I read and reread the words as I pondered Hemingway’s meaning and questioned if I was bleeding enough, let alone at all. That, too, created a nice distraction because I knew I wasn’t before I even asked the question. In fact, I was doing everything I could not to bleed despite the torrential emotions pulsing just below the surface of my skin. I didn’t want to touch them. Like an overripe tomato, I feared the slightest nick might cause a mess of emotion bursting forth, but I also knew that no other post would flow while I kept focus on tamping down my feelings.

August is here and with it comes the mad scurry to gather school supplies, readjust schedules, and shift gears into a disciplined routine. Just a few years back, a large retailer celebrated with summer-weary parents over the start of school claiming it to be “the most wonderful time of the year”, and I enthusiastically rejoiced with them while purchasing fresh notebooks and pouring over the curriculum catalogs that stuffed my mailbox. Books with the smell of newness and unmarked pages were neatly shelved on each girl’s space in the bookcase. New bright yellow pencils replaced the eraser-depleted, chewed on sticks left over from the previous year, and my stash of reward stickers was dutifully refilled before dawn broke on our traditional start day, the Tuesday following Labor Day.  Each year began the same; the girls raced to the school room in search of their new “official grade” in the “Welcome to the ____ and ____ Grades!!” note emblazoned across the large blackboard, launching us into a new year of learning. As a homeschooling mom, this really is “the most wonderful time of the year.”

This year, though, it’s different.  I’m dragging my feet as we move into the month of August in much the same way a toddler drags her feet when leaving the playground. I didn’t want July to end. I want the hands of time to stop their march. This year, I don’t want the smell of new books or to hear the sounds of the crisp paper being flipped in the untouched notebooks. Reward stickers were outgrown long ago as were the grade level announcements on a chalkboard.  My heart, however, longs for those days.

A few weeks back I made this comment on my Transitioning Mom Facebook page:

 “Started shopping for my older daughter’s ticket back to school last night. Instead of buying a ticket, I wrote this on my pad of paper:
“Dear Summer, Why the rush? SLOW DOWN!”
Today, I’ll be back online buying her ticket to return to school next month, with tears in my eyes I’m sure. Are any of you facing the fast-approaching school year with mixed feelings?”

It’s August now and though C’s ticket is purchased, curriculum choices made, and the list for school supplies written, I’m still not ready. I thought I would be, but I’m not. Summer has passed too quickly, consumed by work and chores and socializing commitments. Quick waves as cars moved in and out of the driveway replaced leisurely summer morning chats. I’m not ready for the changes I know this year will bring, which is ironic for someone who blogs about change and transition. I thought the year C graduated high school was a big year, and it was, but this feels bigger. I thought the changes that came when she started school out-of-state were big, and they were, but this feels bigger. In just a few weeks, C will return to start her junior year of college as A begins her senior year in high school, and I begin my official last year of homeschooling. This is a critical transition year for each of us. C will begin her upper division coursework and will likely pursue internships next summer in advance of her graduation the following spring. A will focus on her last few high school requirements with me this semester while preparing herself to begin college classes in the spring. And me? I will begin the final chapter of our homeschooling journey as I do my best to remember all the special moments of this sweet, blessed journey.

Tears roll down my cheeks as I stare at the very real beginning of an end. But, with all ends come new beginnings. I know that, and I will welcome and rejoice in the new beginnings when they arrive. However, for today, I’m feeling resentful and angry but with no one to target. There is no one to blame because this is what we sign up for when we become parents and commit to loving and nurturing little beings. We also commit to releasing them, and that part is simply bittersweet. So, for just a bit today, I’ve decided to give myself permission to mourn the ending of one season in my life before celebrating the new as part of my transition to the empty nest years ahead.

Now, Mr. Hemingway, I bleed. Pass the tissues, please.

Seasons mark the passage of time for all of us, whether we have young children, grown children, or no children. How do you feel about the approach of fall as it marks the passage of time? Please, share your thoughts in the comments below.


32 thoughts on “Pass the tissues, please. (Or, How to Effectively Avoid Writing)”

  1. Try, try, try to remember that successful parenting means that the kids leave home and fly away to begin independent lives. My daughter is starting graduate school this month. My step-daughter’s children are now doing the back to pre-school August thing. Time flows and families grow.


  2. I’m very conflicted about August – though I’m well past the back to school stress, this 8th month seems to signal us all to leave behind the down time and get back to business. Summers move too fast and winters move too slow.


    1. What a great point, Kimba. Just the other day, I saw the temporary Halloween store all set to open up next to the store that has already set out their Christmas displays. There seems to be a emphasis on rushing through life.


  3. I too feel this summer sort of slipped by way too fast, but I have always enjoyed the Fall season so I’m okay with the changes now. That wasn’t always the case though. I went through August dread for a few years. It passes eventually.


    1. Oh, I love the fall season, too, Taylor. It ties with spring for my favorite season, but this August feels like the start of the “real” transition going on in all our lives. It feels tougher but I have faith it will pass.


  4. Great thoughts! I never want Summer to end so I wait to even think about that sad thought until September. Good luck with your children. I take my baby across country in two weeks to start her second year of college but I am hardly from an empty nest it seems. Life goes on…


  5. It’s amazing how fast time goes by, isn’t it? This is the first year I have no children going back to school — my youngest graduated from college in May — and it’s very bittersweet. Cherish that last year at home with A, and please pass the tissues this way.


    1. As I wrote this,I thought about you, Lois, and my other friends who shared pictures and the joyful news of their last graduating college. As we move through these last few years of schooling, I will keep my eyes on my friends, like you, that have shown me how to transition with grace to the empty nest years.


  6. I am with you 100% on this one, Mary. I am not good with change, especially after our brutal winter, I want the summer to d-r-a-g on forever. I hate seeing back to school sales and fall clothing flyers. GET THEM OUT OF MY SIGHT!

    I miss the days of going to the store to prepare my young son for school. Those days are gone, and now that he’ll be a senior in college (and our only child) I am happy for him but I know I’ll have sadness, too.

    I think we bleed with our work and with the change of seasons. We have to cope with them, finding better ways to think of it all. Because life is fleeting. Oh, boy, I need some more tissues.

    BTW, thanks for the nod to me and my blog. It is greatly appreciated. Love you for it, girlfriend!


    1. Wrapping hugs around your entire comment and you, Cathy! Oh, and grabbing another box of tissue after reading this: “I think we bleed with our work and with the change of seasons. We have to cope with them, finding better ways to think of it all. Because life is fleeting. Oh, boy, I need some more tissues.”


  7. I am more and more convinced that August throws us into thinking about the big changes that come in the fall — kids or no kids — fall brings big change for everyone. I thought I would lose that when I moved to place that really doesn’t have noticeable season changes — I thought maybe the shift would be different. It is not….

    Maybe change is how we tie to the clock of the Earth. Or maybe it is because the traditional school calendar created a habit that is hard for our bodies to break. Whatever it is I soooo feel you Mary! Your new bleeding, the tears come with your daughter launching, are sprinkled though with hope and promise and wonder in anticipation of the next set of big changes!


    1. Ruth, your comment is so thoughtful and thought provoking! I love the concept of change possibly being how we tie to the clock of the Earth.
      I’ve always found deep meaning and purpose in the seasons. Fall, the season to shed an old skin and Spring, the season of rebirth, have always been my favorites. Perhaps, that is part of my struggle as we move into fall. I know it is a time for both physical and emotional shedding. And, as the song you shared on your page reminds, I “may never pass this way again.”


  8. OMGoodness you made me teary. I’m sad because my granddaughter is going to college.
    You are right though, with every end comes a new beginning, most likely several. Hang in there…


    1. How exciting to be able to watch your grandchildren in their college years! I wish my parents were still here to watch my girls; I think they’d be proud of who they are, but I have no doubt they’re watching from the “good seats.”


  9. Back to school time has always been hard for me. I love having my babies home all summer. The relaxed schedule, the fun events, but most of all the time together, enjoying their fascinating personalities and the awesome unit they are when they’re all together. Now that they’re all in college that sorrow is exponentially greater. Those goodbyes don’t get any easier.
    -Amy at


    1. They don’t, do they, Amy? I think it’s because I know one of these days soon, the goodbye won’t be for just those few months between fall and winter break and summer. One of these days soon, both of my girls will launch and the returns home will be for short visits before heading off to their own homes. And, when those days come, I will celebrate their launch and their new found freedoms, but for now, I’m dragging my feet.


    1. I would gladly spend my daughter’s entire tuition on travel, but she might object. Travel is the best excuse of all, but if you’re lazy about writing this summer, I’m a slug! Love your writing, Carol!


  10. So I’m not the only one who feels this summer is flying past too quickly? My daughter starts year 3 of 4 in her undergrad degree next month, and I keep wondering, “Where is the time going?”


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