Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The girls are at school.

I woke up this morning at 5:20 a.m. thanks to a loud clap of thunder, so I got up, made the coffee, and sat drinking it in the dark. I thought about how, eight years ago, I was exactly one week away from giving birth to Annie. It's the day that feels like the beginning of my experience as a mother, and this day feels like an end. Not THE end, just AN end - to being at home with my girls, to being needed that way, to knowing that my primary job is raising them, feeding them, playing with them, keeping them safe. I could have cried a little this morning, sitting there in the dark, but I didn't, because I knew that if I started it'd be hard to stop, and because I didn't want to let them see me sad on their big first days.

I got them up, fed them breakfast, helped them pack their lunches into their backpacks and put headbands in their hair, took their pictures on the front step, and walked them to school in the rain. Annie was uncertain, a little excited and a little nervous. Jemma was ready, confident, happy. I hugged and kissed Annie when she turned to walk to her 3rd grade line, took Jemma to her door for a final kiss and hug, and then I walked home by myself, swinging my umbrella because the rain had stopped.

Now I am here. It's what I've thought I wanted for years. Time to myself, a little peace and quiet (or "a piece of quiet," as I used to call it when I was small), space to write and think and organize. And I DO want it. It's just a little scary. A little abrupt. Two weeks ago, our family was on a ten-day vacation, every day packed with sunshine and swimming and hiking and constant togetherness. Today, it's silent but for the hum of the dryer and the clicking of my keyboard.

What will I do? Oh, I have a list. There are projects I've been putting off all summer (organizing Jemma's old bedroom into a bona fide office, cleaning out closets, getting back to a regular yoga practice) and projects I've been putting off for eight years (acquiring and filling a fireproof safe, painting the walls in the stairway that have been scuffed since the day we moved in, writing something cohesive and meaningful).

What will I do? Maybe I'll rejoin Netflix just so I can watch the entirety of Friday Night Lights. Maybe I'll read a book a day, run every morning, take a post-lunch nap every afternoon. Maybe I'll get a job. (I almost got one last winter, though I didn't write about it here.) I hope I figure out how to fill every day with a mix of meaningful activities, figure out how to keep doing things that matter, figure out how to stretch myself and try new, hard things.


I read the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand earlier this year and, later, was discussing it with a family member who had also read it.

"What did you think?" I asked.

"I thought it really showed how much evil there is in the world, how evil people can be to one another," he said. "What did you think?"

"I thought it was about how incredibly resilient the human spirit can be in spite of unthinkable difficulty," I said.


I still like my answer, but I want to change it. Unbroken was about potential. It was about how every person possesses the potential to act for good or for evil. Both the hero in that story and the villain had one life on this earth, and their stories were a sum of their choices.

I think that's what this time in my life is about, too. Potential. Wide open. One choice at a time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this today. I'm in the space of trying to stay present (not wishing away the painful first 12 weeks with a fussy newborn). I long for the time you have now, but I know it will be bittersweet as well. Anna starts preschool for the first time ever next week, with orientations Wednesday and Thursday, and I'm already so emotional about just three afternoons per week. Anyway, I wish you so much peace and fun and learning and potential.