Staring 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.