Friday, September 5, 2008

Yes, I AM Ready! by Barb McKone

Yes, I AM Ready! by Barb McKone  

I'm a change resistor.  That doesn't just include things like having a hard time donating the old pair of jeans I haven't fit into for five or six years to someone who might actually be able to zip them, or not being able to fully commit to looking for a larger house even though we're bursting at the seams and my realtor's license is getting stale in my broker's drawer.  No, my disorder is also seasonal.  I resist the changing of fall to winter because I so love wearing my Talbot's orange fall jacket, winter to spring because I haven't used my crock pot enough, and spring to summer because I haven't yet planted my zinnias.  But mostly, I resist the change of summer to fall because summer just isn't long enough.  Peaches are still in season, and in Missouri, it's still hot enough to swim.  I have a new bike!  There are trails to be blazed!  So, why is my daughter off at college, and why are my boys back at school?  The end of summer.


I never think I'm ready for changes, but, when I'm forced to face them, I find they're really for the best.  I remember when my youngest child was finishing up his fifth grade year at North Glendale School, the wonderfully tiny neighborhood elementary school both of my children attended.  I'd watched the outgoing moms march in the end-of-the-year parade for years with tears in my eyes, dreading the day it would be my turn.  They walked arm in arm like soldiers bracing for the next phase of their lives: the MIDDLE SCHOOL years.  It looked scary.  It looked sad.  And yet, when I marched in the parade, I was shocked at my lack of emotion. Marching along, I thought about what time baseball practice started that night, whether or not I should bother turning in my receipts for the class party decorations one last time, and what to make for dinner that night.  What time would my husband be home?  He was still in exams. When it came right down to it, I was ready.  More than ready.  Truth be told, I haven't been back to the old school much over the five years since my son finished there, unless I'm walking or riding their track.  Time to move on. 

Cue soundtrack:  To everything, turn, turn, turn...

This summer has been hard to let go of.  

First of all, my daughter is off to her freshman year of college, as most of you already know.  I dreaded the transition.  I dreaded feeling panicked in the middle of the night, wondering where she was and what she was doing.  That feeling hasn't come.  I'm feeling pretty good.  Calm, in fact!  She sounds fine on the phone; much happier than she was here, with me, for the past few months. She'd been "dirtying the nest;" a school-counselor-official-psych-term for the strife we've had at the hands of our five-foot-two powerhouse of a daughter, all summer.  It's perfect. Our nest is fully dirtied.  Beyond dirtied.  She was ready to go.  SO ready.  She's where she needs to be.  She's living the life she needs to live.  We've done all that we can do.  I didn't think I was ready.  Turns out, I underestimated myself.  I was.

Secondly, I'm believe I'm into a full-scale mid-life crisis.  My husband being a teacher, I live on a school calendar.  Fall means I have to make decisions I've been putting off.  Fall means a decided lack of playtime.  Fall means I should probably decide, yet again, what I want to be when I grow up.  Great.  I've been making lists all summer.  Now, I guess I'll have to use them.

And, then, there's the son.  He's always been huggy, loving, adorable.  He suddenly has hairy legs.  He's sullen.  He sometimes forgets himself and jumps on the dogs and uses his old, squeaky voice: "Puppies!  Where are my puppies?!"  It's short lived.  He soon remembers his new, cool persona, lowers his few utterances by a couple of octaves, and goes to his room to listen to music or scan You-Tube.  Damn that new I-Touch.  I didn't buy it.  It was a freebie with computer purchase.  I don't want my sweet boy to change, but clearly, this  is a tide I cannot force back.  I will keep my mom-radar on full alert.  I will take any chance for a hug I can get, even by trickery, and I'll hold on for the ride.  Thankfully, he's still forgets himself and occasionally smiles.   We take what we can get.  

So, what's next for me?  First off, admitting that yesterday, the first day of school for my husband and son, was not that all that traumatic.  We survived the day.  My son likes his classes, and he took the time to lie on the floor at my feet and actually TALK about them before demanding supper.  And, I have to say that I'm feeling a sudden urge to find my crock pot and accompanying cook books. (Any great recipes? Send 'em my way!) Then, there's always the call of the shiny dry-cleaner bag encasing the orange Talbot's pea coat.  Yes, it's looking a bit worn, but I'm loyal.  It's still my favorite October friend.  

Okay, I give.  Fall is almost here.  I'm feeling okay about it.  Excited, even.  As always, when it comes right down to it, I'm ready.

Slow-Cooker Stroganoff, anyone?


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Oh, I know. I drag my feet at the end of summer, but then, one morning I wake up and I'm ready. Ready for brisk nights, sweaters, baking apple pies, and structure. A set rhythm.

And that teenage boy? He'll always love his mom. I promise.

Suzanne Macpherson said...

Barb, oh ditto ditto ditto! I may not have cried sending them off to school, but when they graduated from our beloved elementary school I bawled my eyes out! And the midlife crisis is living at my house too- I might be on the upside of it now, I'm actively pursuing something,whatever it is. LOL. Remember before we were writers and we were "just moms?" I have this memory of being blissfully happy at that job. No rejections, no deadlines, just the garden, the meals, the preschool and all those domestic arts I actually used to love. Well, they're hairy and emotional now, so I guess I better get back to work.

Daisy said...

I have to measure my fall tears because I'm too busy to shed many: I'm a teacher, too!

Barb McKone said...

Judy- I hope. This morning he didn't like me much. It's cold. He wanted to stay under the covers.

Barb McKone said...

Suzanne- Yes! The key to no midlife meltdown is the "actively pursuing" part. My problem is that I actively pursue too many things, and the one thing I should be pursuing, writing, is left by the wayside. It's that darned need to make money that keeps me down! College bills!!

Barb McKone said...

Daisy- Good luck. You teachers are the greatest, and the busiest! I'm married to one, I know.